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Archive for the ‘Justice Issues’ Columns

Is Former SCC Chief Justice McLachlin’s Action Committee and Leadership of the A2J Agencies Avoiding the Major Issues? [Part 2 of 2 Parts]

[The content of this article is closely related to five of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; August 6, 2020; and, October 22, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN.]

Part 1 presented the proposition that the great amount of “emergency relief-type” activity and literature that has been produced by the many access to justice agencies (A2J agencies) in relation to the “A2J problem” of unaffordable lawyers’ services, is: (1) deflecting attention from the great need to solve it; and, (2) it . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Building Bridges Between Private Bar Services and Community Legal Clinics

Community legal clinics have always had strong linkages with the communities they serve and have developed connections with community organizations. They have done this by working with community service agencies and voluntary organizations through different forms of outreach to identify people with legal problems who would probably not otherwise request assistance and by using holistic and integrated approaches to service delivery that identify people experiencing multiple problems and sometimes complex problem clusters. Compared with contacts with community organizations, connections with the private bar have not been prominent aspects of outreach. Community legal clinics can increase the market for private sector . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Is Former SCC Chief Justice McLachlin’s Action Committee and Leadership of the A2J Agencies Avoiding the Major Issues? [Part 1 of 2 Parts]

[The content of this article is closely related to four of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; and, August 6, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN.]

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in, R. v. Thanabalasingham 2020 SCC 18 (July 17, 2020; by a full Court of 9 Justices), demonstrates why the access to justice problem exists, i.e. the A2J problem of unaffordable legal services for middle- and lower-income people (they being the majority of society), is caused by . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

My A2J Nightmare

After a lot of pondering, I have decided to share my personal experiences of trying to get access to justice – including, at one point, finding myself confronted with the nightmare of being a self-represented litigant – with Slaw readers.

My experiences are no worse than thousands and thousands of others of course, but I hope that hearing this from a system “insider” (law professor, mediator, scholar, and researcher) will have some impact. This blog is organized around three themes in my own A2J journey (in Canada and England, but with almost identical conditions and legal rules) that I believe . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

It’s Not My Role, but Someone Should…

“Someone should <do something>!”

“Someone should <change something>!”

“Someone should <fix something>!”

I’ve uttered these phrases. Maybe you have as well. You’ve certainly heard them said.

So many of the challenges and opportunities we see could be realized if only “someone” would do the thing that opens the door, addresses the negative, or creates the good.

So who is this “someone,” and what’s preventing them from acting?

Whether are talking about the practice of law or the business of law, the administration of justice or access to justice, the making of law or the application of law, the “someone” in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Hopping Ministers and Crossing Canyons

At the end of July, after months of lockdown, my first trip outside The Netherlands was to Tunisia. Just before I flew over, the prime minister tendered the resignation of his government. That meant possibly another minister of justice; the fourth in a little over two years. Much as I believe in democracy, it felt a bit much. With a deep sigh I reconciled myself with the fact that we needed to start developing our ministerial relationship all over again. In most post-revolution and post-conflict reconstruction environments frequent changes of ministers of justice and, with that, senior civil servants, are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Show Not Tell: Why I Am Declining to Participate in a Runnymede Society Debate

I was recently invited to participate in a Runnymede Society debate against Asher Honickman—a co-founder of the Society—on “the future of legal education and curriculum.” I paused. I consulted. I reflected. And now, I am declining that invitation. But I want to explain why.

As a former debater and mooter, I love to argue. But as a legal scholar—and especially, a scholar of critical race theory—I am mindful of power and its inseverability from the conversations we engage in. Thinking about power, and its particular dynamics within the context of this proposed Runnymede Society debate, is ultimately what led me . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Unbundle the Courts

It’s been a long time since I did an analysis of the constitutional give-and-take between the courts and the legislature when it comes to Charter decisions, so I’m not going to opine on Justice Minister David Lametti’s remarkable musings last month that the government might legislate a solution to court backlogs caused by enforcement of the Jordan decision during the pandemic.

As the defence lawyer states in the linked article, the Supreme Court’s ruling already allows for flexibility around “illness or extraordinary circumstances,” and COVID-19 certainly qualifies as both. There’s no need to legislate a solution to Jordan backlogs . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

The Two-Fold Dilemma of the Self-Represented Litigant: COVID-19 and Navigating the Court System

[This post was a collaboration written by Anna Sallah and Julie Macfarlane.]

COVID-19 has driven up anxieties and everyday challenges for everyone, but for the self-represented litigant, it has raised new and especially difficult issues. Being a self-represented litigant on a normal day is no small feat: it involves tackling issues ranging from searching for and identifying legal resources, to applying arcane and complex rules and procedures, all while navigating unfamiliar territory.

Moving from dealing with the regular uncertainties of being an SRL to being an SRL during COVID-19 is like moving from the frying pan, to the fire.

As . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Lawyers and Self-Represented Litigants: Taking Pintea More Seriously

The 2017 decision Pintea v Johns has been heralded as a watershed moment for self-represented litigants in Canada. In a very short decision written by Justice Karakatsanis, the Supreme Court endorsed the Canadian Judicial Council’s (CJC) Statement of Principles on Self-Represented Litigants and Accused Persons.[1]

The Canadian Judicial Council’s statement on self-represented litigants sought to articulate proactive guidelines respecting judges’ responsibilities when hearing cases involving self-represented litigants. Recognizing the disadvantage to self-represented litigants who are not familiar with or understand the procedural and substantive law, the Statement of Principles was meant to provide guidance for judges, court administrators and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Justice for Resilience

There are many reasons why well-functioning justice systems are important. The Corona crisis made me more aware of its importance for resilience. Louise Vet, a widely distinguished ecologist from the Netherlands, said in a recent interview that our economies are aimed at reducing diversity. That makes us vulnerable, she said. Ecosystems can teach us how to do better. Resilient ecosystems are made up of many small connections. Each individual connection may not matter that much, but together they matter a lot. They create a fine web of resilience. A lot of diversity allows you to spread risk. If something goes . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Community-Based Access to Justice: Impact and Opportunity

The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-ranging and profound impacts on our society. The crisis has led to a surge in legal problems related to tenant rights, employment issues, domestic violence and other areas. Most would agree that, pandemic or not, access to justice is still a goal that is far beyond our grasp. Making real headway is complicated and no easy solutions exist, but in this moment there is opportunity for meaningful change. Can we seize it?

This week CLEO released a new report, Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice. It is the product of a fellowship . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues