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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Yes, We’re in an Emergency and Yes, We Still Have a Social Contract

We’re in the midst of a medical emergency — and we’re in the midst of a legal emergency. (I almost wrote “middle of” in the preceding sentence, being too optimistic by far.) We are experiencing a true medical pandemic in the 2019 novel coronavirus crisis, affecting over 150 countries, including, of course, Canada. And we are subject to emergency declarations, giving governments unusual powers, at the provincial, territorial and local levels in Canada. Even as we accept that these responses, and will accept more stringent ones in the future, are necessary, we need to remember that we still have a . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Changes to Our Courts: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Landscape

“How will COVID-19 change the legal industry and what will it look like After Coronavirus? Short answer: the coronavirus will turbocharge legal industry transformation. It will propel law into the digital age and reshape its landscape. The entire legal ecosystem will be affected—consumers, providers, the Academy, and the judicial system.” – Marc Cohen in the article “COVID-19 Will Turbocharge Legal Industry Transformation

Marc Cohen explains that the timeline for digital transformation has been truncated. We will not see a permanent return to the old ways. “The coronavirus has turbocharged law’s move to a virtual workforce and distance learning. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

The Future of Our Courts: Online Courts

“The Future Has Arrived — It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed Yet.” – William Gibson

In “Online Courts and the Future of Justice”, Richard Susskind proclaims that our courts are moving towards radical change. Conceived in the dark ages and modified in the 19th century, our courts are now overwhelmed by paper and archaic processes. The operations of our courts seem increasingly out of place in our digital society.

Susskind predicts that we will see court services delivered in a blend of physical, virtual, and online courts. The 2020s will be a period of redeployment of lawyers and judges. By . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The End Is Not Yet Nigh: Remote Dispute Resolution in the Age of COVID-19

It would be nice if there was an inverse correlation between the frequency of family law disputes and the gravity of social crises, but, thanks to the peculiarities of human nature, such is not the case. As Canada’s provincial and superior courts batten down the hatches, it’s important to remember that efficient and effective dispute resolution alternatives exist, and are available even where trial dates have been set. Best of all, in this time of social distancing, many of these alternatives do not require the participants to be in the same room at the same time.

Mediation and arbitration can . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

The Coronavirus Pandemic and Access to Justice

Slightly over 30 years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a self-initiated injunction by the Chief Justice of British Columbia to prevent picketing in front of the courthouses in British Columbia: B.C.G.E.U. v. British Columbia (Attorney General). As Dickson CJ said in his opening statement in the majority decision, “This case involves the fundamental right of every Canadian citizen to have unimpeded access to the courts and the authority of the courts to protect and defend that constitutional right.” The union did not have the right to impede access to the courts. Twenty years later, the unprecedented spread . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Should Judges Confront Big Companies for Failing to Pay Jurors for Time Off Work?

Jury duty is an obligation dreaded by some and evaded by others. Medical reasons, familial obligations, travel plans, and the loss of an income are some of excuses used to avoid jury duty.

Recently, Justice Robert Goldstein of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto wrote to Canadian Tire about their policy on paying jurors. While presiding over jury selection, a prospective juror told Justice Goldstein that Canadian Tire would not pay them while performing jury duty. In response Justice Goldstein wrote a letter to Canadian Tire’s general counsel, Jim Christie, and Timothy Tallon, the owner of the St. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Revisiting the LCO’s Family Law Final Report Seven Years Later

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting with students in McMaster University’s Justice, Political Philosophy and Law Program (“JPPL Program”) at a Wine and Cheese “Industry Night” organized by the JPPL Student Society. Not surprisingly, many students, although not all, anticipate applying for law school after completing the program. I was one of 10 panelists (!) with a range of experiences in law asked to give the students some idea about our own backgrounds and then answer a specific question drawing on that experience. In my own case, the organizers asked me to tell the students something about . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Two Tales About the Rule of Law

A recent opinion piece in the National Post by Leonid Sarota and Asher Honickman explained how the rule of law functions: it constrains government and when people perceive it to overstep, they can challenge it; but it also requires individuals to restrain their actions and use the legal sysem and when they are unsuccessful, they must accept it. As they say, “The rule of law does not, by itself, guarantee justice, but without it just laws cannot be upheld and unjust ones peacefully reformed.” Here I consider two situations in which the rule of law is said (by some, at . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Refugee Law & Climate Change

Kiribati is a small island nation that may soon be gone. It is forecasted to be the first nation to become a victim of climate change and all of its citizens will be forced, involuntarily, to find another home. In an unprecedented decision, the UN Human Rights Commission ruled that a citizen of Kiribati, Mr. Ioane Teitioto, shall not be deported by New Zealand due to threats related to climate change. This decision is the first in a sea of change, I believe, that will lead to a significant expansion of Canadian refugee law.

A Brief History of the “Eco-Refugee”

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

A Tale of Two Legal Services Entities

The Atrium debacle has now moved out of the legal innovation news cycle having been mostly savaged (and rightly so) for its lack of understanding of the market it purported to serve, its inability to learn from the past, and a seemingly waste of investor money. It remains a sad example of how an entity built solely around hype is able to gain huge profile and raise massive amounts of money with no reasonable ROI, while entities doing really good work impacting far more people (on a shoestring!) are largely ignored.

One of the claims made on Twitter during the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Alberta Fair Registration Practices of Regulatory Bodies Proclaimed in Force

The Alberta Fair Registration Practices Act is proclaimed in force on March 1, 2020, to speed up the process of newcomers getting their credentials recognized so they can work in the careers they trained for, and remove unfair barriers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation