The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

How self-represented litigants view the justice system

By Yves Faguy February 17 2017 17 February 2017

     

    The National Self-Represented Litigants Project has released its report for 2015-16 tracking trends among the SRL population, including data about income:

    We continue to see the majority of those representing themselves reporting lower income levels below $50,000 with the majority below $30,000. In the latest sampling, 51% state that their income is under $30,000 (in the 2013 Study this figure was 40%, and in the 2014-15 Intake Report it was 45%).

    The next largest group (15%) report annual income of between $50,000- $75,000, followed closely by those reporting income of $30,000-$50,000 (1%). This also closely resembles the data reported in both the 2013 Study and the 2014-15 Intake Report.

    Also consistent with earlier reporting, 8% of respondents (6% in both the 2013 Study and the 2014-15 Intake Report) report earning more than $100,000. As income rises, so does the likelihood that the respondent previously retained a lawyer for this matter. One respondent in this sample group reported having spent more than $100,000 on legal fees before becoming self-represented.

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    Improving the Court Challenges Program

    By Yves Faguy February 16 2017 16 February 2017

       

      Léonid Sirota sizes up the reinstated Court Challenges Program and reiterates his concern that “choosing to fund court litigation based on language and equality rights,” Parliament is in fact saying that it values those right over constitutionally protected rights.

      Nicolas Hay acknowledges the argument, but writes that a well designed program still has merit. He cites the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case upholding a discrimination complaint against the federal government by failing to provide an adequate level of child welfare on First Nations reserves, as the type of challenge that requires a financing program:

      I wholeheartedly agree: privileging some rights over others can have serious implications for federalism, and a Program that treated all rights equally would be more appropriate.

      The Program is undoubtedly worth saving if it were adjusted to include the changes I have outlined so far: a more accountable selection process; a more robust method of allocating subsidies; and an expansion to include all Charter rights...

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      CBA Board of Directors Elections

      By Mariane Gravelle February 9 2017 9 February 2017

        The CBA wants YOU – to join its board of directors!

        Regular CBA members who want to contribute to the evolution of a more member-centric CBA are encouraged to apply for election to its Board of Directors. Deadline is February 17, 2017.

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        Appeals court to weigh Trump executive order

        By Yves Faguy February 7 2017 7 February 2017

           

          The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing the challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban today. He has received plenty of pushback for singling out a a "so-called" federal judge in a tweet for blocking his immigration order.

          Will Baude considers the difference between executive official criticizing a court’s decision and it criticizing its authority:

          If the court has authority, then the parties are legally required to follow its judgment: even if it is wrong; even if it is very wrong; even if the President does not like it. But if the court does not have authority, then perhaps it can be defied. So the charge of a lack of authority is a much more serious one. It is the possible set-up to a decision to defy the courts — a decision that is unconstitutional if the court does indeed have authority to decide the case.

          Yves Boisvert addresses the independence of U.S. courts:

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          HackJustice: Tech apps that will improve access to justice

          By Yves Faguy February 6 2017 6 February 2017

             

            Over the course of two days, several participants at the MaRS Discovery District and at the Cyberjustice Laboratory at Université de Montréal gathered for Hackjustice, co-sponsored by the CBA, to code and build tech applications that will improve access to justice.

            “I was truly excited, impressed and amazed by the technologies that our HackJustice participants were able to develop in what amounted to about 10 working hours,” said Nicole Aylwin, assistant director at the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution. “It was inspiring to see how conversations about the role of legal technology in improving access to justice helped informed participants creations.”

            Each participating team was required to choose a challenge and later present their tech solution to panel of judges.  The three challenges were: to develop ways to use social media tools to engage and empower the public in policymaking; to resolve consumer disputes; and to develop tools to help people deal with everyday legal problems.

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            Dual citizens take note – and your Canadian passport

            By Kim Covert February 6 2017 6 February 2017


              If you’re a dual-nationality Canadian who was surprised by the requirement that you have a Canadian passport for travel to Canada over the holidays – well, the CBA’s Immigration Law Section is not surprised at your surprise.

              In fact, it warned the government in a letter last month that not enough notice had been given to the requirement under the new Electronic Travel Authorization policy that Canadians holding dual citizenship would have to travel on their Canadian passports or risk being denied boarding.

               

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              Joe Groia’s incivility dispute heads to the Supreme Court

              By Yves Faguy February 6 2017 6 February 2017

                 

                It’s somewhat fitting that it is in these polarized and vitriolic times, where levels of incivility and nastiness seem to have become commonplace – in the media, in politics, on social platforms, in the workplace – that the Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave to hear the appeal by Toronto lawyer Joe Groia. 

                As a quick recap, in 2011, the Law Society of Upper Canada found that Groia engaged repeatedly in uncivil conduct in the defense of his client, John Felderhof, the chief geologist and central figure of the Bre-X Minerals scandal. At trial, Felderhof was acquitted of all charges. Though the trial judge had never complained to the Law Society about Mr. Groia’s conduct, a disciplinary panel nevertheless found that Groia’s violated professional conduct rules by being rude and lacking respect for the court. Groia saw his licence briefly suspended.

                Sean Robichaud gives some background, and frames the debate, arguing that advocacy is about “justice, not civility."

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                Navigating changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act

                By Kim Covert February 6 2017 6 February 2017


                  As part of its broader review of environmental and regulatory processes, the federal government is looking at changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that came into effect in 2014, and asking the Canadian public for input.

                  “The Government of Canada has promised to review the recent changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards,” the government says on the consultation website.

                  The CBA’s Maritime Law Section, which responded to the online consultation questions in December, says it does not believe additional protections are needed under the Act.

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                  Sexual harassment in the workplace: Not just a bystander

                  By Kim Covert February 3 2017 3 February 2017


                    On March 8, International Women’s Day, the CBA National Women Lawyers Forum will launch a podcast that grew out of their campaign about sexual harassment in the workplace.

                    After passing a resolution at the February, 2015 CBA Council meeting calling for an end to sexual harassment in the workplace, the WLF ran a campaign called #WriteYourWrong, inviting lawyers – male and female – to write in about their experiences with sexual harassment in law firms.

                    The podcast, Not Just a Bystander, is the next stage in the campaign. The title of the podcast is meant to emphasize that it’s everyone’s job to end sexual harassment – witnesses have to speak up, especially when victims can’t.

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                    HackJustice: Life hacks you and your clients might actually use

                    By Kerri Froc February 1 2017 1 February 2017

                      I’m a big sucker for the life hack lists you see all over the Internet, like 100 Life Hacks to Make Life Easier, or 50 Incredibly Useful Life Hacks You Won’t Believe You Didn’t Know. But if you are like me, you still haven’t used Doritos to start a fire, still can’t fold a fitted sheet, and your attempt to use a walnut to fix scratches on your furniture just means it looks like a squirrel had a snack on your scratched furniture.

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                      It’s time Canada’s courts joined the 21st Century

                      By Kim Covert February 1 2017 1 February 2017


                        It’s an idea whose time came some time ago – and then it had to wait around for someone in charge to notice.

                        But now the Courts Administration Service has announced an initiative to modernize its technological infrastructure to create a fully electronic-based system for the Federal Court, Tax Court and Federal Court of Appeal, and the CBA’s Federal Courts and Tax Court bench and bar committee couldn’t be more pleased, calling it a move that is both worthwhile and necessary.

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                        It’s a wrap! The rest of what we did in 2016

                        By Kim Covert January 31 2017 31 January 2017


                          2016 was a banner year for CBA advocacy – we broke the previous record for submissions in a single year by 15, with a total of 97.

                          And 19 of those submissions came in late November and December ahead of the Christmas break, as CBA National Sections and Forums and the Legislation and Law Reform people scrambled to meet deadlines and respond to consultations even after Parliament rose for the holidays.

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