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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Shocking the Criminal Justice System Into Action

We meant what we said, when we described in R. v. Jordan last year, a culture of complacency towards delay in the criminal justice system.”  This could encapsulate what the Supreme Court of Canada signaled in its recent decision in R. v. Cody, where they rejected submissions by interveners by provincial governments to provide greater flexibility in applying unreasonable delay.

Section 11(b) of the Charter was always expected to be interpreted judicially as to what a reasonable delay in our justice system meant. The highly subjective nature of prejudice under the previous 1992 Morin framework was also unpredictable, as . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Fifth Bibliography on Access to Justice From National Self-Represented Litigants Project

The National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) has published Version 5 of its Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography.

From the description on the NSRLP website:

“Version 5 of the Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography includes over
100 summaries on access-to-justice material in the Canadian, American,
and International context. Our latest updated Version 5 contains a
specific section dedicated to unbundling and legal coaching, reflecting
the increasing attention being given to these areas (…)”

The NSRLP, which flows out of the work conducted by Dr. Julie Macfarlane, Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor, describes itself as a clearinghouse . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Holding Refugees Hostage at Legal Aid Ontario

Legal Aid Ontario is in a mess. In what should have been a good news story, LAO received new funding to enhance access to justice in recent years. Using this money, LAO created new programs and increased financial eligibility thresholds for existing programs. But LAO miscalculated demand for legal services and gave out more legal aid certificates than they could afford. The result: a deficit.

LAO now says that the deficit is not their fault. The big problem is that Canada has become increasingly welcoming towards refugees (you saw Trudeau’s tweet, right?). There is “unprecedented demand” for legal aid from . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Permanence and Independence of the Bench

Judicial independence is obviously a bedrock of our legal system, required to ensure the autonomy and function of the courts without outside interference. Occasionally, however, there are instances where this autonomy needs to be reigned in.

The authority for doing this for federally appointed judges can be found under Part II of the Judges Act, which creates the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), and its powers to commence an inquiry for removal under s. 63. Since the inception of the CJC in 1971, complaints of 13 judges have proceeded to the public inquiries stage. The last one, in 2016, involved . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Evaluation Time for Unbundled Family Law Legal Services in BC

Back in January, BC lawyers received a host of new resources supporting unbundled legal service. Our organization helped launch the Family Law Unbundling Roster along with a toolkit for lawyers explaining why they should join. Unbundling is well described here.

Since then, conversations and buzz about unbundling has been doing the rounds here in BC and elsewhere:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Disability and the Practice of Law

“There was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.” – The Great Gatsby 

We often talk about how the law discriminates against people with disabilities. But not much attention is given to how the structure of practicing law discriminates against people with disabilities. Technology has eased some of the burden. But we have a long way to go.

The way we practice law is in itself discriminatory against people with disabilities. For example, litigation requires lawyers to read lots of material, write lots of material, listen to lots . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Cultural Competency in End of Life Care in Ontario

Ontario is the most diverse province in Canada, and one of the most diverse regions in the world. The forms of diversity found in Ontario include different cultures, languages, ethnicities, and beliefs.

These diverse population groups also trend across age demographics, including the elderly, where there are often special care needs that are distinct from the rest of the population. The prominence of end-of-life care among the elderly also means that the conjunction of diversity and demographics raises some interesting issues in the provision of health care.

We recently concluded a study through the Law Commission of Ontario as part . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues

10th Anniversary of Paralegal Regulation

Tomorrow will mark the 10-year anniversary of paralegal regulation in Ontario. The Access to Justice Act, which included amendments to the Law Society Act, received Royal Assent on May 1, 2007.

As of that date, the Law Society of Upper Canada became responsible for this regulation of paralegals, making them “licensees” with equal standing, but of a different scope of practice, than lawyers. This week Treasurer Paul Schabas commemorated this anniversary, recognizing the over 500 newly licensed paralegals since December 2016 alone. There are an estimated 8,000 licensed paralegals in Ontario today.

Shabas stated,

This is a

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Burning Down (Or Perhaps Just Lightly Scorching) the House

It seems to me that whenever we talk about litigants without counsel, the conversation inevitably veers toward the delays, costs and other inconveniences such litigants impose on court and counsel, and the sort of public legal education that might be provided to smooth the stormy seas. This isn’t an unreasonable response, coming as it does from lawyers and judges who have spent their professional careers navigating the justice system, but we forget the stupendous complexity and sheer foreignness of the litigation process to those without our hard-won skill and understanding, and I worry that public legal education is an intrinsically . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Suing for Defamation – a Call for Restraint

The law of Defamation continues to be one of the most technical areas of law, with special limitation periods, notice pre-conditions to the commencement of proceedings, special rules of pleading and evidence, and reverse onuses of proof. It is an area of law that requires great expertise and more importantly experience. A lawyer who provides advice and proceeds with a claim based solely on a review of the relevant legislation may do a great disservice to his or her client.

Absent the existence of special damages, defamation actions should rarely be brought for monetary reasons alone. It is an unfortunate . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Update on the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project

The Alberta Limited Legal Services Project, a research effort looking at the effects of unbundling on access to justice, was formally launched on 18 April 2017. As described in my earlier post on this subject, the project offers Albertans a roster of lawyers prepared to provide work on a limited scope retainer and aims to gauge lawyers’ and clients’ satisfaction with limited scope work and ultimately determine whether some legal help is better than no legal help at all.

At present, the project boasts a roster of 49 lawyers with offices throughout Alberta, from Peace River to Medicine Hat, . . . [more]

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

Burning the Provisions, Not the Witches

Codification can be a wonderful thing. It helps consolidate all of the myriad of rules and exceptions that exist in the common law, and lays it out in one place for everyone to find.

But codification also has its drawbacks. Once enshrined in statute, there can be a tendency towards complacency.

The best example of this of course would be the Criminal Code of Canada. First enacted in 1892, it was modeled after a proposed a codification in Britain written by James Fitzjames Stephen, which never made it past Second Reading there. The reason for its codification was that John . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions