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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Cyberbullying, Social Media Networks and Sentencing: The Alberta Court of Appeal Strikes a Hard Blow in R v Mackie

How should the courts determine appropriate sentences for online predators who victimize vulnerable children through various forms of cyberbullying? This was the question put squarely to the Alberta Court of Appeal in R v Mackie 2014 ABCA 221.

Background

Statistics Canada reported this summer that the traditional crime rate in Canada fell 8% from 2012 to 2013, reaching its lowest level since 1969. But this general decline in crime rates overshadows a disturbing countertrend – the rise in online crimes against children.

Crimes constituting sexual violations against children increased 6% from 2012. In particular, the crime of using a . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues

Why Pro Bono?

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with law students at Robson Hall as part of the Pro Bono Students Canada (“PBSC”) launch event. I had been asked to give a speech on my own pro bono and access to justice work with a view to motivating students to volunteer for one of the many interesting projects PBSC is coordinating this year. In preparing for the presentation, I thought back to my own days at Robson Hall and realized, with some dismay, how little I gave of my time to others at that point in my life.

Because I . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues

Elaborate Rules Means Justice System Is Expensive and Inaccessible

At the Opening of the Courts this week in Ontario, Justice Strathy, the new Chief Justice for the Province, gave a speech which highlighted how the court system is largely inaccessible to the majority of the public, largely due to the cost, complexity and time involved.

He made particular reference to his experience in the Ontario courts as a need for reform:

Having been a lawyer and a judge in this province for over 40 years, it strikes me that we have built a legal system that has become increasingly burdened by its own procedures, reaching a point that we

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Online Dispute Resolution at UNCITRAL – Some Creativity Needed

The UNCITRAL Working Group on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) meets next month in Vienna to continue discussion of model rules for international ODR. Here are the working documents for the meeting, and past meetings. .

The perspective of the project since its inception in 2010 has been to find a way to resolve high-volume, low-value disputes – not necessarily just consumer disputes, but many would be of this kind.

One of the problems has been to figure out a way to get both buyers and sellers into the ODR system, whatever it is (and there might be many such . . . [more]

Posted in: International issues, Justice Issues, ulc_ecomm_list

Cops Impound Cell Phone of Texting Driver for 48 Hours

A recent shift in the distracted driving law has granted the police the authority to confiscate and impound cell phones of drivers who are caught texting while driving. Drivers caught texting are subject to a fine, and the police may confiscate the driver’s phone for up to 48 hours. Just long enough for that cell phone dependent driver to really feel the loss of their “companion”, but not so long as to justify going out to pick up a loaner.

The hope is that depriving the driver of their beloved cell phone will serve as a greater deterrent than any . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Alternative Business Structures and Access to Justice … for Whom?

The Canadian legal profession is currently engaged in a much-needed debate about the future of legal services in general and whether to allow the use of so-called alternative business structures (ABSs) more particularly. Thankfully, the issue of access to justice is figuring prominently in the general debate, as evidenced by the recently released CBA Legal Futures report and the ongoing work of the Action Committee on Access to Justice. Beyond that, the potential for ABSs to improve access to justice is being put forward as a key reason for allowing them, as can be seen in Slaw columns of . . . [more]

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

How Effective Is Assisted Self-Help?

We know that a significant proportion of litigants across Canada are choosing, for a variety of reasons, to represent themselves in court proceedings. Dr. Julie MacFarlane and numerous others have extensively explored this continuing trend. What is less known, or perhaps unknown is whether existing resources designed to assist self-representing litigants (SRLs) are effective in providing support to those litigants.

Across the country, self-help services for SRLs are available through a combination of court and community-based service providers. In Manitoba, self-help services are not available at the courts; rather, the courts refer SRLs to community-based services like Legal Help Centre . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Why Checks and Balances Must Come First

In my last post, I posed a question to readers: Do we need a global digital bill of rights? It was also the topic of a fascinating panel discussion I moderated at the CBA’s CLC in St. John’s last week. Perhaps predictably, there were no definitive conclusions, but there appeared to be agreement that as the World Wide Web celebrates its 25th anniversary, internet users of all stripes are struggling with a dilemma: If private internet companies are watching us, shouldn’t someone be watching them? Presumably the “someone” in question would be the government. But that’s an idea that . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology: Internet

The Tragedy of Medical Negligence

Current and “wannabe” litigators practising (or hoping to practise) in the medical negligence area would do well to read, and consider, what happened, and why, in the just released Briante v. Vancouver Island Health Authority, 2014 BCSC 1511. Regardless of one’s position on the legal validity of the result, the result is a reminder (for those old enough to remember, or otherwise be aware of) of these statements and calls for reform (outside of the tort system) in cases such as Ferguson v Hamilton Civic Hospitals (1983), 40 OR (2d) 577, 1983 CanLII 1724 (ON SC) aff’d (1985) . . . [more]

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

What Do Legal Consumers Really Need?

A new study into legal needs has recently been released (hat tip to Richard Zorza for his blog post on the report.) Accessing Justice in the Contemporary USA: Findings from the Community Needs and Services Study (conducted by the American Bar Foundation and Rebecca Sandefur) was released August 8 at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in Boston.

The research findings include:

  • 66% of those surveyed reported experiencing one or more civil justice situations involving money, debt, rented and owned housing, insurance, employment, government benefits, children’s education, clinical negligence, personal injury, and relationship breakdown and its aftermath in
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Access to Justice Fatigue

I hope JP Boyd was right when he recently suggested there is a growing fatigue with the subject of access to justice in Canada. Boyd has recently launched a blog on the subject (lauded here on Slaw) that focuses on concrete steps lawyers and other stakeholders can take to increase access to justice in small but significant ways.

If there is growing weariness, I expect some of that is generated by those on the frontlines who continue to slog forward while waiting for those in governments and courts to finish “exploring initiatives” and start funding and implementing initiatives that . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues