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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

DIY A2J 4: Unbundle Your Services, Reinvent Your Billing Model

To date, my DIY A2J posts have talked about ways that lawyers can improve access to justice in family law matters by disseminating information about family law and dispute resolution processes on a voluntary, pro bono basis. Pro bono work is all well and good, and arguably a moral imperative of those practising a generally privileged profession, but at the end of the day you have a responsibility to yourself and to your family to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

It seems to me, and apparently to the Canadian Bar Association‘s Futures Committee as . . . [more]

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

A Definite Yes!

One of my 2016 New Year’s resolutions was to start with “Yes.” Happily, every so often an opportunity comes around that makes saying “Yes!” the only logical response.

The Law Society of Manitoba’s annual Lawyers for Literacy event is just such an opportunity. Each year for the past 5 years, lawyers and Law Society staff have signed on to spend the better part of a Saturday reading to children at West Broadway Youth Outreach (“WBYO”). As well as reading to kids, participating lawyers raise pledges to support the work of WBYO and donate books and toys for use in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Jurors and the Lure of the Internet

The Internet taunts jurors. Promising them answers. Beckoning them to Google the parties, the law, the lawyers. And after-all, how bad could one search be? If only those lawyers weren’t so boring. If only the evidence was presented clearly. If only the judge’s instructions weren’t steeped in legalese, then we could decide it without the Internet. Whatever the justification may be, whether curiosity got the best of them or it was something else, jurors are Googling. And they are compromising the appearance of justice and maybe justice itself by going beyond the evidence in the courtroom.

Last year, the Ontario . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Background Material on Québec’s New Code of Civil Procedure

Quebec’s new Code of Civil Procedure came into force on January 1, 2016. It involves an ambitious overhaul of the way cases are supposed to work their way through the courts and it is intended to increase access to justice.

CAIJ, the Centre d’accès à l’information juridique (the network of courthouse law libraries associated with the Québec Bar Association), recently added an annotated version of the province’s new Code of Civil Procedure to its website (in the lefthand column of the eLois page, click on “Code de procédure civile (nouveau)”). 

 The annotation includes the sections of the new Code, a . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Refugee Law: Reactive Legislation From Denmark

Denmark has been receiving significant attention for its so-called “Jewelry Law” that passed 81 to 27 on January 26, 2016. This new law gives authorities the power to seize valuables from asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who enter the country. Legislators included exceptions for items of “special sentimental value” such as wedding rings and medals; however, items such as cell phones and computers may be seized.

Based on reports from UNHCR, CCR and other organizations, the refugees flowing into Europe have been using their cell phones to communicate and exchange information about where to find shelter and safety, which borders are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Immigration Reform: Low Hanging Fruit

There is no doubt that our current government has been busy since November 4th and, as an immigration lawyer, the change in rhetoric (and action!) has been like a zephyr warming up the winter blues. I still have clients mention to me that they saw the Prime Minister at the airport greetings refugees. (In photos, not live. He did not grace the Winnipeg airport with his presence.) Well done, PMJT! And now Minister John McCallum announced that they will be looking to change the loan repayment rules for refugees so that they are fair. Another move in the right direction. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

DIY A2J 2: Work With Others and Others’ Work

In most urban centres, you can’t swing a stick without hitting a social service or social service connected agency. Most of these agencies are glad to have any legal materials they can get their hands on, and most are willing to share the materials they have. Most importantly, each of these agencies serves a specific target population with specific legal needs.

Groups like SUCCESS Settlement Services in British Columbia, for example, help newcomers to Canada overcome language and cultural barriers; groups like the Atira Women’s Resource Centre help women dealing with abuse through advocacy and education. Various other social service . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

Court Funding: Do You Know the Numbers?

“[T]he Courts Administration budget represents a mere 0.54% of the total Ontario Government budget for the year, a percentage which has remained relatively constant for the past number of years.” – Ontario Civil Justice Review, 1996

Do you know how much the Ontario government spends on the justice system a year? Do you know precisely how it is allocated? Could you state with confidence how much of it goes to: judges’ salaries, office space, assistants, maintaining courthouses, registrars, court reporters, clerks, librarians, legal counsel, and so on? Could you state with confidence how much is budgeted for the different . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

DIY A2J 1: Create and Share Plain-Language Information About the Law

Information about the law and dispute resolution processes has been identified as a key barrier to justice in most of the major reports, although in two contradictory senses: a lack of information and a confusing surplus of information. The report of the the Family Justice Working Group (PDF) to the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters phrased the problem nicely:

There is a broad consensus in the literature that early information is enormously helpful to separating families, especially  but not only  where spouses are unrepresented. …

Considerable family law information is now available

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

The Vicious Spiral of Self-Representation in Family Law Cases

A lot of good research on litigants without counsel has been published in the last three or four years, most notably, in my view, Professor Julie Macfarlane‘s “Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-represented Litigants,” a trio of papers published by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family on the views of Alberta judges and family law lawyers, and a report by the Institute with professors Nicholas Bala and Rachel Birnbaum (in press) on the results of a national survey of judges and lawyers. Although this research doesn’t necessarily label it as such, I’ve noticed . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Nova Scotia’s Cyberbullying Law Struck Down

Nova Scotia’s Cyber-Safety Act has been struck down as unconstitutional, with immediate effect.

The law clearly intended to restrict expression. The way it did so was held so vague as not to constitute a restriction “prescribed by law” as required by section 1 of the Charter. It was also disproportionate to the harms it sought to remedy. The court declined to suspend application of the ruling, as the Crown had requested.

Further details are in the blog of the successful counsel, David Fraser of Halifax.

Tragic circumstances do not justify a hasty or overbroad legislative response. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, ulc_ecomm_list

Lawyers Who Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize

December 10th is the day on which the annual winners of the Nobel Prizes in various fields collect their awards in Oslo or Stockholm.

The Nobel Prize winners in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and economics gather in the Swedish capital. The winner or winners of the yearly Peace Prize attend a ceremony in Oslo.

Law Library of Congress employee Jennifer Gonzalez has written a two-part post on the Library’s blog In Custodia Legis about the many lawyers and law professors who have won the Peace Prize:

The list includes Oscar . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues