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Archive for the ‘Justice Issues’ Columns

Highway Noise Class Action Authorized to Proceed in Québec

How much noise must neighbours of a highway put up with?

As noted by Geneviève Lay here on Slaw recently, The Québec Court of Appeal has certified the Carrier class action by neighbours of a major Québec freeway, the Laurentian Highway (Highway 73) north of Québec City. I’d like to add a bit to her reportage here.

The neighbours have been complaining about noise from the highway since 1985, which (they say) interferes with outdoor use of their properties and requires them to keep their windows closed at all times. Even with the windows closed, their sleep is disturbed and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Let’s (Not) Make a Deal: Supreme Court Gets It Right but Justice Takes the Fall as Crowns Entitled to Break Plea Bargains

A deal’s a deal. Except where lawyers are concerned.

That’s the tough lesson learned by Alberta’s Olga Maria Nixon. Having been involved in a car crash that orphaned and seriously injured a seven-year old boy, Ms. Nixon may not engender a high degree of public sympathy but her legal ordeal set the stage for a very significant precedent handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) several weeks ago in R. v. Nixon 2011 SCC 34.

Ms. Nixon was alleged to have driven her motor home though an intersection without stopping striking another vehicle and thus causing the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

L’accès À La Justice: Vraiment?!? / Access to Justice: Really?!?

[ français / English ]

Depuis mon retour dans le milieu de la justice en 2005, j’ai entendu à maintes reprises bâtonniers, ministres de la justice, juges en chef, professeurs d’université et tutti quanti dire que leur priorité est l’accès à la justice pour tous ! Comment ne pas être d’accord ? C’est un des principes fondamentaux de nos sociétés libres et démocratiques. 

Un autre de ces principes est « nul ne peut ignorer la loi » : on impose comme obligation à tous de connaître toutes les règles qui gouvernent notre société. L’accès à la justice, c’est aussi ça  . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Cooling Trends in Civil Justice

Hot: Discussing the civil justice system

Not: Funding the civil justice system

The civil justice system will likely never be a popular subject of household discussion or even a top trending topic on Twitter for a day, but it is receiving a little more attention in mainstream and social media of late. Sadly, it is receiving attention for all the wrong reasons. In the United States, the new feature-length documentary Hot Coffee explores a nation-wide conservative campaign to institute tort reforms that restrict the liability of corporations and medical professionals, but likewise limit access to justice for ordinary Americans. British . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Shrinking the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Champion

The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was established by the Equality Act 2006 with the ambition of creating an equal society which respects human rights. The government in its consultation, Building a Fairer Britain: Reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is now proposing that the equality and human rights champion has its wings clipped and turned into a mere regulator through the repealing and amending of certain sections of the Equality Act 2006. Under the proposals, the EHRC would in effect no longer be a champion of equality and human rights, but instead an isolated . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Unreasonable and Transgressive Nature of Omnibus Bills

What I plan to do in these periodical contributions to Slaw is to examine debates and committee proceedings on bills that may be of special interest to lawyers and legal scholars. What I want to do in this first discussion is to look at the nature of “omnibus bills” and to consider whether such bills tend to erode the capacity of parliamentary scrutiny and may be, to that extent, inconsistent with one or another part of our Constitution.

Many lawyers and legal scholars will be familiar with the notion that “the test of the reasonable man [person] is the man . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Mapping Legal Needs and Existing Legal Services in Alberta

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) focuses its research on access to justice and legal services. The justice system in Canada is not, of course, one united system but a set of institutionalized processes with overlapping provincial, territorial, and federal jurisdictions. There are civil, family, criminal and administrative divisions and both substantive and procedural laws that must be applied to each situation. Courts and Tribunals attached to this system are increasingly dealing with problems arising from Canada’s failure to solve resistant social problems. Yet, to achieve access to justice for all Canadians, legal services must be delivered as part . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Just Compensation for Public Works

Public works often impose heavy losses on those in private property nearby. Under what circumstances should they be compensated? That should have been the question in Heyes v. Vancouver, now Susan Heyes Inc. (Hazel & Co.) v. South Coast B.C. Transportation Authority 2011 BCCA 77. Alas, it was not – Heyes was decided on whether the transit builders had been at fault.

Ms. Heyes’s company designed, made and sold maternity clothing in Cambie Village, Vancouver. Her business was severely disrupted during construction of the Canada Line, a regional transportation system connecting downtown Vancouver, the City of Richmond and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Integrated Domestic Violence Court – One‑Stop Courthouse Shopping

Regular readers of my SLAW column will know that, while I’m an ardent supporter of initiatives that enhance the efficiency of our criminal justice system, I am also a regular critic of how that same system deals with the deluge of domestic-related charges that clog our courts on a daily basis. For these very reasons, a promising new pilot project has recently caught my attention.

The Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV) has ambitious plans to combine cases from two of Toronto’s busiest courthouses: the criminal courts of The Old City Hall and the family courts housed at 311 Jarvis Street. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Access to Justice in Rural and Remote Communities: Where to From Here?

It is a well-documented and oft-lamented fact that the problem of limited access to justice is far worse in the rural and remote areas of Canada than in its cities and suburbs. Previous Slaw blog entries have outlined the multitude of distance-related obstacles that prevent many rural and small-town Canadians from finding quick and affordable resolutions to their legal problems. Geographic restrictions do not apply to legal problems, however. Wherever you find personal and business relationships, you will find legal problems. They stretch freely across the country—from “sea to sea to sea,” as Canadian politicians like to say these days. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Protecting Employment Advice From UK Legal Aid Cuts

I was recently asked which one area of civil legal aid I would protect from the upcoming spending cuts in the UK. It is difficult to single out one area of law, but I think I would protect employment advice in the civil legal aid budget for three reasons:

The rise in unemployment 

In the last three years there has been a substantial rise in unemployment and The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development predicts that in 2011 over 200,000 people in the UK will lose their jobs. This increases the probability that the number of people requiring advice regarding . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The R Word

Racism is like alcoholism — you can’t deal with it until you admit that you have a problem with it. Somehow the same people who might agree that Canada is filled with systemic discrimination, in virtually every institution or sector imaginable, also seem to believe that no one is a racist. (Well, maybe those boot-wearing, skinhead white supremacists, but no one else.)

No one in government, education, law, health-care, business, or social services even wants to hear the words “racism” or “racist” – they are just too harsh. How then can we deal with the harsh and deeply entrenched reality . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues