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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

CBA’s Envisioning Equal Justice Project – Discussion Paper for Comments

The Canadian Bar Association’s Access to Justice (A2J) Committee is currently working on its Envisioning Equal Justice project. There are 5 “building blocks for change” they are working on. Currently under Building Block #5: “Alternatives for increasing access to justice for the middle class”, the committee is circulating the paper Unexplored Alternatives for the Middle Class [pdf] for commentary. Comments are requested by March 31st.

These are some of the issues being covered in this discussion paper:

  • Promising innovations to increase access to legal services
  • Re-engineering dispute resolution processes
  • Affordability of lawyers’ services

Discussion papers for Building Blocks #1-3 are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

ABS – the Fear in Canada Is Palpable

The ABS debate continues among many Canadian provinces. The Law Society of British Columbia has already made the same mistake as the American Bar Association recently made by declining to allow outside investment in law firms. One of LSBC’s reasons was that local lawyers didn’t feel a need for it; this reminds me of a comment made by a lawyer in the UK and likely echoed by some in Canada, “We’re smart people. If there was a better way to do things we would have already figured it out.” Or to more bluntly put it, LSBC’s rationale is like asking . . . [more]

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

BC Releases Part Two of Justice Reform Plan

♫ Cause I feel like I’m in love with a technology…

Music, lyrics and recorded by Jessie J.

The BC Ministry of Justice has released its White Paper on Justice Reform, part Two.

The Report is broad and far-reaching. It is also innovative. It is aimed at providing a transparent, timely and balanced system. For example:

“The justice system must be transformed to that of a service culture, where citizen’s needs and outcomes are the focus, and investments in justice service align with best practices.”

There are five key themes of the report. These are:

  1. Timely and
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Greed IS Good

… sometimes.

For some lawyers, anyway.

EG’s clients lost completely. They didn’t have much on their side apart from EG. Assuming (for argument’s sake) the cab rank rule applies in Canada, a strict application says that EG was obliged to take the gamblers’ case provided they met his fee.

I wonder, though, what else it means that it wasn’t BG on the appeal.

“Frank”ly speaking, that is.

Moreira v. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, 2013 ONCA 121. You can read about it in the papers. The short summary is: Gamblers lose; house wins. Again. Go figure.

  . . . [more]

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

Employment, Human Rights and (US) National Security

The US government is sensitive about matters of national security. One of the expressions of this sensitivity is its unwillingness to have certain kinds of work performed by citizens of countries that the US considers likely to be hostile – e.g . Iran, Cuba, Yemen. etc. Thus it is forbidden by US law for companies doing certain kinds of work for some agencies of the US government to hire nationals of those countries for that work.

Canadian law prohibits discrimination in employment on the ground of national origin, among other things. This is governed by human rights codes and employment . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

The Case for Anonymous Reporting of Police Violence

First off, we understand that our position on this subject might not be popular with our colleagues in the legal profession, some of whom might have more faith in the institutions we work within. But today we feel the need to voice it nonetheless.

Events of the past few weeks have once again raised the question of the value of anonymous reports regarding experiences of police violence. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an 89-page report that documents the failures of, and abuse by, the RCMP in Northern British Columbia as recounted by 50 aboriginal women and girls they . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Lawyers for Literacy

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass

February is I Love to Read month in Manitoba and this week, a number of Manitoba lawyers are practicing reading aloud while collecting pledges and gathering books to donate as part of Lawyers for Literacy.

The 3rd annual Lawyers for Literacy event on February 23 is sponsored by the Law Society of Manitoba, in support of the work of West Broadway Youth Outreach. WBYO is a small non-profit operating in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood to provide after school and evening recreational opportunities to local . . . [more]

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

Ronald Dworkin

Legal philosopher and public intellectual died yesterday: February 14, 2013. He was 81.

It’s fitting that leading U.K. – the Guardian – and U.S. – the N.Y. Times – obituaries present different pictures of him, even to the extent of seemingly disagreeing on which of his books and other writing was the most important and on his significance in the world of legal and moral philosophy.

For example, the central paragraphs about his legal philosophy in the Guardian’s obituary are:

His books were immensely influential, especially in US law schools. He published many articles both in technical law journals and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Reading

Policing, Negligence and HIV Non-Disclosure: One to Watch

The actions of policing bodies towards community members, and more specifically, towards “victims” of crime, has been impossible to litigate in Ontario. In 2011, in the Wellington v. Ontario decision (2011 ONCA 274), the Court of Appeal firmly stated that there is “a long list of decisions rejecting the proposition that the police owe victims of crime and their families a private law duty of care in relation to the investigation of alleged crimes.” In Wellington v. Ontario, the family of a young man killed by two police officers sought to bring a claim in negligence against the Special Investigations . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Paper Tiger Fences

The Vancouver Sun recently described the issue of insufficient access to justice in British Columbia as a “fast-approaching cliff” and urged the Law Society of British Columbia to lead efforts to address the problem.

That article reminded me of the oft-cited metaphor used by Richard Susskind in describing legal services as providing either a fence at the top of a cliff or an ambulance at the bottom.

The United Nations’ Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, in its’ 2008 report Making the Law Work For Everyone identified access to justice as one of four pillars to legal empowerment of . . . [more]

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

The End of the Monopoly Over the Provision of Legal Services and Prosecutions for the “Unauthorized Practice of Law”, Part 2 of 2

[Part 1, last week, questioned the propriety of law societies’ exclusive control of their monopoly over the provision of legal services, and their prosecution of offences of “the unauthorized practice of law,” given the many reports documenting the fact that the majority of the population cannot afford legal services at reasonable cost, particularly so for litigation. It set out five reasons that the lawyer’s monopoly over the provision of legal services depends upon the legal profession’s performing all legal services covered by that monopoly at reasonable cost. The list of reasons continues here.]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

A Blow to the Bail Program

The Toronto Bail Program (TBP) has recently announced that, effective Mar. 29, they will be discontinuing serving the weekend bail court on Sundays and statutory holidays.

For those unfamiliar with the important work done by the TBP on behalf of persons who are unable to present friends, family members or co-workers as prospective sureties in bail court, see my blog post on this disturbing development for more detail.

This is yet another head-scratching decision that undermines the success of our increasingly strained criminal justice system. While millions of additional Federal dollars will have to be poured into policing, courts and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues