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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Automated Affidavits to Confirm Residency

On April 16, 2021, the Province of Ontario introduced new measures under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which would allow law enforcement to stop individuals and vehicles, asking them the reasons for leaving their home.

The government believed it necessary to stop COVID-19, as part of their broader support to a complete lockdown and stay at home order to battle a third wave of the virus.

The amendment to O. Reg 294/21 stated,

(2) Schedule 1 to the Regulation is amended by adding the following section:
Requirement to provide information
2.1 (1) This section applies as of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Reforming Ontario’s Civil Justice System: Adopting the BC CRT Model

In the article” Ontario Civil Justice Reform in the Wake of COVID-19: Inspired or Institutionalized?” by Suzanne E. Chiodo, Professor Chiodo remarks that “Ontario’s justice system is already facing an overwhelming backlog, and the courts’ inability to function at full capacity—combined with the spike in litigation that is sure to follow the pandemic —could lead to a breakdown of the system.” 

Unfortunately, simply moving court processes online to Zoom will not demolish the backlog. Some of the contributing factors to the backlog include: a poorly structured system, chronic underfunding of the courts, and outdated rules from the Rules of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Universal Design and the Legal System: Part 2, Application (Beginning the Conversation)

In my last Slaw post, I reviewed the concept of “universal design”, which was initiated about 25 years ago to respond to the increased participation of persons with disabilities; at the time, it tended to be limited to the built environment, although it has since expanded to other contexts. In this post, I begin considering how universal design might provide a feasible framework for the legal system. My post of May 5, 2020 also provides background. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Universal Design and the Legal System: Part I, Background

While I find Twitter posts too often to be vicious, bigoted (neither in those I actually follow, but in retweet comments), frustrating and a lagoon of self-congratulatory messages (“I’m honoured and humbled to have won/been recognized for/have been included among these fabulous people….”), I also enjoy some people’s very clever humour and discover news of developments I might not otherwise see. So it is with a Tweet from @lawtech_a2j (aka the UK’s Roger Smith): “The concept of user-centred legal design has proved itself as exciting, galvanising and innovative over the last decade. Can we call it a ‘game changer’? It . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Racial Stereotypes as an Aggravating Factor

On Feb. 25, 2021, I provided the keynote speech at Bora Laskin School of Law for Black History Month. I noted that Black History could not be just reduced to slavery, but at the same time the legacy and trauma of that history has significant impacts on our society and justice system today.

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently heard an appeal of Justice Nakatsuru’s decision in R. v. Morris, which explored the social circumstances of Black Canadians and its impact on the justice system.

Justice Nakatsuru took into account the unfair and disproportionate discrimination that Black offenders face . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

After the Report: What Comes Next?

The Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 studied the issues, wrote a report, and presented it at the February 17, 2021, annual general meeting.

The risk with reports, however, is that they can become static documents, a snapshot of an issue. Reports gather dust as a collection of information if no one pulls up their sleeves to do the actual work to carry out their recommendations – and by the time the report comes out the political will to act may have subsided.

In our case, the ongoing pandemic is keeping these issues current . . . [more]

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

Justice System Needs a Champion to Move Modernization Project

Don’t turn back, but don’t stand still. Work with justice system partners to share best practices, figure out how to make the system work better for the people who need it to work for them, and how to mitigate the unintended side-effects of change.

That sums up – very briefly – the recommendations in the final report from the Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19, presented to the Association’s annual general meeting on Feb. 17

The task force, established in April 2020, drew together representatives from CBA Sections and committees, its partners in the justice . . . [more]

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

Exploring Pay Inequities in the Legal Professions

It’s really not shocking for anyone who pays attention to the practice of law, but a powerful piece in The Globe recently highlighted the gender inequities in Canadian law firms. Lawyers in all practices and of all genders nodded their heads, knowingly.

The article describes the calls for change that have been in place since 1996, “when women started filling up more than half the seats in law schools across the country.” But all the partners’ horses, and and the partners’ consultants, couldn’t figure out why women weren’t making partner in comparable numbers, or were making almost 25% less at . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Square Pegs: Changing the Courts to Fit the Technology

When discussing the modernization of the justice system the conversation can often be about how we adapt the technology to replicate the bricks-and-mortar experience.

But how might the institutions and decision-makers themselves adapt to work with the emerging technology?

Legal scholar Tania Sourdin talks about three primary kinds of technology in the context of the justice system:

  • Supportive – things like online legal applications that support and advise people using the justice system
  • Replacement – things that replace the role of people, such as e-filing technologies and online dispute resolution
  • Disruptive – things that fundamentally alter the way legal professionals
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Effective Triage a Cornerstone of a Modernized Justice System

The Statement of Principles guiding the Canadian Bar Association’s COVID-19 task force puts the focus on innovation, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability as the justice systems and legal profession move from prioritizing safety at the height of a pandemic to institutionalizing change.

One word at the heart of it all is triage.

Innovation is needed to establish the kind of triage necessary to make the justice systems effective and efficient. If it’s done properly, it will also be sustainable well into the future, in bad times and good.

In a hospital emergency room triage means to sort by priority – urgent . . . [more]

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

What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About Law: Part 2

In my last Slaw post (January 12, 2021), the first of two parts, I discussed the characteristics necessary for law to be accepted and effective. Here I consider some of the laws — the legislation, the regulations, orders and, although not law, intended to have a similar impact, advice or recommendations — that have been imposed during the pandemic. I’m focusing on Ontario, although I refer to developments elsewhere. Even so, my discussion is not meant to be exhaustive, but to illustrate laws enacted during the pandemic that do or do not satisfy the requirements of acceptable and effective law. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Do We Need to Regulate Public Squares Owned by Big Tech Companies?

The ability of Big Tech companies to shut out one of the world’s loudest men, Donald Trump, is astonishing. The events of last week, including the mob storming the U.S. Capitol building, forces us to ask how should we regulate Big Tech?

In the Harvard Business Review “How to Hold Social Media Accountable for Undermining Democracy”, Yael Eisenstat points out that simply silencing Donald Trump is not enough. The response “fails to address how millions of Americans have been drawn into conspiracy theories online”.

Eisenstat argues that social media companies are curating content that decides what speech to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues