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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

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

Of JP Boyd’s Prolificity and A2J Burn-Out

The legal profession has many noble archetypes: dedicated advocates pro bono publico, champions of significant (not always popular) causes, and unswerving guardians of the court whose instincts shine bright as a sword against much larger opponents.

John-Paul Boyd broke the mould he was casted in quite early on. He’s not so much a noble archetype as a force of unnatural origins who continues to drop jaws with his superhuman ability to drop knowledge.

To say he is one of a kind, is not enough. The best I can do is describe him like this: 

Hawaiian creation myth relates that

. . . [more]
Posted in: Announcements, Justice Issues, Legal Information: Publishing, Reading: Recommended

Use of CRA Audits for Political Means

 A special political-activities audit of charities by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been under scrutiny recently. The special CRA probe, backed by $13 million and created in 2012, looks at whether charities are following laws which limit their political involvement. But critics claim not all charities are being treated equally, and the majority of the 60 charities under investigation have had a tumultuous relationship with the federal government.

The Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act) came into effect on Oct. 17, 2011, however, corporations incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act (“CCA”) continue to be governed . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Do We Need a Global Digital Bill of Rights?

Back in March, Tim Berners-Lee — who invented the world wide web, no less — issued a call to citizens in different countries to pressure their governments to produce a bill of rights to ensure net neutrality and protect the rights of web users worldwide.

It’s a far cry from the heady days, not so long ago, of cyber-libertarians rallying around A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. But then again, we live in different times. The growing evidence of abuses committed by intelligence services (south of the border obviously, but here at home as well) are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology, Technology: Internet

Twitter in the Courtroom

A news article quotes Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and how impressed he was about the use of Twitter by reporters during a recent trial.

“I couldn’t get over how well it had worked,” Kennedy said in an interview, describing it as the closest thing to gavel-to-gavel coverage he has seen.

I didn’t think it was going to be as accurate as it turned out to be. I have to say that I was very impressed.

The Crown attorney Darcy MacPherson is quoted as saying he used printouts of a reporter’s tweets to augment his . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

The Komagata Maru Remembered

On May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru sailed into Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, carrying 376 passengers of Indian origin. However, the passengers on board the Japanese steamer were denied permission to enter Canada. Fears over Asian immigration at the time led the Canadian government to adopt a series of racist exclusionary policies against Chinese, Japanese and Indian migrants.

For two months, passengers of the Komagata Maru sought to defy the Continuous Journey Regulation, adopted solely to exclude them. While the passengers were not allowed to disembark the ship, supporters in Vancouver challenged the regulation on their behalf in court. Ultimately unsuccessful, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

I’m a Non-Engineer

It happened again yesterday in the CBA Futures Twitterchat – the term “non-lawyer” once again reared its ugly head. Granted, it was a Twitter chat with 140 character limits but even so, there must better ways to describe the vast majority of the population who are not licensed to practice law.

I’ve written here previously on my views of this term; since then, I’ve only become more deeply entrenched in my point of view, to the point where use of the term now grinds in my ears like fingernails on a chalkboard. (Incidentally, does anyone under 30 even know what . . . [more]

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

Small Claims

Slaw readers likely know that there are special courts in Canada that have the jurisdiction to decide many types of civil claims where the monetary value of the claim is considered small. In my jurisdiction, until July 30, 2014 the upper limit for a Provincial Court of Alberta civil claim is $25,000. The upper limit of $25,000 also applies in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and in the Yukon.

The Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories can hear civil disputes up to $35,000. Until August 1, 2014, the NWT has the highest . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Lotus Land and Outdated Bicycle Laws

Here out west you’ll find a “Beads and Granola” culture (thank you, Douglas Coupland), where our mild work ethic, sea-to-sky nature and hospitable year-round climate lures would-be lotus eaters from across the vast confederation. British Columbia’s fresh air and crisp scenery encourages outdoor activities of all kinds. Even our roadways are a balmy, unblemished asphalt invitation for physical enjoyment through bicycling.

So it’s somewhat surprising that despite a progressive vibe, BC’s cycling laws are among the least friendly in the country.

Even as BC’s capitol city boasts astonishing commuter stats—at 5.9% Victoria has basically three times more bike commuters . . . [more]

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

What Access to Justice Can Look Like

In February 2011, Legal Help Centre (“LHC”) first opened its doors to the public. Since then, more than 5000 individuals have been served through the Centre’s drop-in clinics. The sole criteria to access LHC’s drop-in clinic services is household income <$50,000 per year, ensuring that those who are ineligible for Legal Aid but cannot afford private legal services have a place to go for information and support.

The LHC’s pro bono legal clinic model is unique in Canada in two key ways:

  • LHC was started by and continues to be supported by two universities – the University of Manitoba and
. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues