The Judicial College of England and Wales has updated the Equal Treatment Bench Book. The Judicial College, which is responsible for training the courts’ judiciary, recently published a revised, 422-page Equal Treatment Bench Book that includes new sections on anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, modern slavery and multicultural communication, expanded sections on litigants-in-person (self-represented litigants) as well as glossaries, useful suggestions and more. All information provided in the revised Equal Treatment Bench Book adheres to the existing legal framework. The newly updated Equal Treatment Bench Book is available online here: www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/equal-treatment-bench-book-february2018-v5-02mar18.pdf.
The Provincial Court of British Columbia has created several resources aimed at informing self-represented litigants about the possibility to be accompanied by a support person for family and small claims trials.
Information about these newly available flyers and posters as well as downloadable copies can be accessed on the Provincial Court of BC website here. The Provincial Court encourages you to share the Support Person Guidelines poster and other resources.
SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS (SRL) AWARENESS DAY: (October 4th 2017) at Windsor Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Ottawa Law School, Queens Law School, and Western Law
- SRL Awareness Day aims to increase awareness among law students of the self-represented litigant experience. Windsor Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Ottawa Law School, Queens Law School, and Western Law will host invited SRL guests in classes and during a midday panel.
For more information about SRL Awareness Day, visit the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) website here. Join the conversation taking place on social media for Self-Represented Litigants Awareness Day with #SRLawareness and #SRLawarenessday.
LEGAL INNOVATION ZONE: YOUTH ACCESS TO JUSTICE INITIATIVE at Ryerson University
- Session 2A (youth only): October 4 at Ryerson University
This event will focus on access to justice within the community and how to address access to justice issues.
- Session 2B: October 25 at Ryerson University
This event is open to all ages. Discussions will center on community access to justice issues and how those in the community can get help for their issues.
- Session 3: October 30 at Ryerson University
This session will explore where justice system users go for legal help and how existing resources can be made to work better.
- Session 4 (Design Thinking): November 4 at Ryerson University
Using themes explored in earlier sessions, this session will lead participants through the Design Thinking process to create prototypes for youth justice initiatives.
For more information on the Legal Innovation Zone Youth Access to Justice Initiative, visit their website here.
SASKATCHEWAN ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK (October 16 to 21) at the University of Saskatchewan, College of Law
- This is the 2nd annual Saskatchewan Access to Justice week. This event seeks to engage individuals and stakeholders in access to justice discussions and to bring to the forefront various initiatives that are contributing to improvements in A2J for Saskatchewan residents.
For more information on Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week, visit their website here. Follow the week’s events and conversations on social media using #SKA2J.
ONTARIO ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK (October 23 to 27)
This is Ontario’s second annual Access to Justice Week. This year’s Access to Justice Week will include the following events:
- Access to Justice Innovation (October 23) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
This event will highlight innovative, community driven work taking place in the justice sector. The keynote presentation will be delivered by Justice Thomas A. Cromwell.
- Improving Health, Improving Service (October 23) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
This event will focus on mental health and other health risks that lawyers face.
- The Millennial Influence (October 24) at the University of Ottawa
This event will include discussions on the ways that millenials are influencing thinking on A2J and legal technology.
- Paralegals and Access to Justice (October 25) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
This session will centre on the contributions that paralegals are making to improving A2J.
- Include. Inform. Inspire. (October 26) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
This will be a public legal education and information forum.
For more information on Ontario’s Access to Justice Week, visit The Action Group on Access to Justice website here. Follow the week’s events and conversations on social media using #A2J2017.
2017 IT.CAN 21st ANNUAL CONFERENCE (October 23 to 24) at 150 King Street West, Toronto
- This 2-day conference will offer legal professionals and others an opportunity to network and learn about developments in technology law in Canada and abroad.
For more information about the IT.CAN Conference, visit the program page here.
ABA 2017 NATIONAL AGING AND LAW CONFERENCE (October 26 to 27) Silver Spring, Maryland
- This 2-day conference will include an array of workshops on legal and policy issues, legal service delivery and recent developments related to elder rights, aging and law.
For additional information on the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2017 National Aging and Law conference visit their website here.
2017 FAMILY DISPUTE RESOLUTION INSTITUTE OF ONTARIO (FDRIO) AND FAMILY MEDIATION CANADA (FMC) CONFERENCE (November 20 to 21) in Toronto, Ontario
The 2-day 2017 FDRIO-FMC Conference will include panels and workshops on a range of topics including:
- How to Fix the Family Court Crisis
- Getting Past Impasse
- Distance Mediation and Technology
- Effective Advocacy in Mediation
- Elder Mediation
- Parenting Coordination Challenges
- Grandparent Access Mediation
- Domestic Violence and Power Imbalance
- Income Determination for Support Purposes
- Ethical Issues in Mediation/Arbitration
For more information or to register for the FDRIO-FMC conference, visit the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario website here. Follow the conversation on social media with #FDRevolution.
SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGATION NETWORK (SRLN) 2018 CONFERENCE (February 22 to 23, 2018), San Francisco, California
- The 2nd annual Self-Represented Litigation Network Conference will bring together a diverse group of players and users in the justice system to explore and create new tools for providing access to justice. Proposals for this conference will be accepted up to September 29.
For more information about Designing & Engaging the 100% Access to Civil Justice Ecosystem, the 2-day SRLN conference, visit their website here.
The Bach Commission on Access to Justice was created in 2015 to develop “realistic but radical proposals…for re-establishing the right to justice as a fundamental public entitlement” in England and Wales. Recent changes in funding and eligibility requirements for legal aid have placed even more strain to a justice system that is said to be in crisis. In response to what the Commission argues are “widespread” and “varied” problems in the legal system, their final report proposes a legally enforceable Right to Justice Act that will ultimately serve to “create a new legal framework that will…transform access to justice”.
The Crisis in the Justice System in England and Wales, the Commission’s interim report published in November, 2016 is available online here.
To better assist self-represented litigants and others navigate the overwhelming volume of legal information online, the Provincial Court of British Columbia has collaborated with Clicklaw to create one page summaries of some useful online resources in each of the Provincial Court’s major subject areas. Some of the resources that can be accessed online can be found through the following links:
Earlier this year, the Court also adopted Support Person Guidelines: http://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/enews/enews-11-04-2017.
The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has released several new publications from their Cost of Justice research project, which examines the cumulative social and economic costs associated with everyday legal problems. Stemming from this project are the following recent publications:
1) “The Everyday Legal Problems and the Costs of Justice in Canada: Overview Report”
Gathering data from over 3,000 survey respondents, the Overview Report, available on the CFCJ website here, looks at the public’s experience with the justice system and the various costs (ex: monetary, physical and emotional) that it imposes.
2) “Design And Conduct of the Cost of Justice Survey”
This publication sets out the specific methodology used by the CFCJ research team to collate the survey data. The method of sampling, data collection, and data processing are discussed at length here.
3) “Everyday Legal Problems and Cost of Justice: Survey”
The Cost of Justice Survey was structured to determine the number of respondents who had experienced 84 specific legal problems. The 84 problems were grouped into 17 types, with a section of the survey being devoted to each type. The Survey can be accessed here.
4) “Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada: Fact Sheet”
This (updated and revised) Fact Sheet summarizes some of the key findings arising out of the Overview Report. The Fact Sheet can be accessed here.
The US-based Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) website now includes a Canadian Access to Justice Research page.
In the SRLN brief that discusses this recent website addition, there are links to several recent Canadian access to justice research papers, resources and other publications.
Read the SRLN brief in full here.
Comparing the Views of Judges and Lawyers Practicing in Alberta and in the Rest of Canada on Selected Issues in Family Law: Parenting, Self-represented Litigants and Mediation draws on the findings of a survey, conducted by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, Professor Nick Bala and Dr. Rachel Birnbaum, of the participants at the 2014 National Family Law Program in Whistler, British Columbia, and compares the views of Alberta respondents with those from the rest of Canada on a number of issues, including parenting after separation, self-represented litigants, access to justice and mediation.
The report notes some striking differences between the views and experiences of Alberta practitioners and those from elsewhere in Canada. Among other things, Alberta practitioners are more likely to: have cases resulting in shared custody or shared parenting; support the amendment of the Divorce Act to use terms such as parenting responsibilities and parenting time; have cases involving self-represented litigants; support mandatory information programs for self-represented litigants; and, support the use of paralegals to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants. Recommendations are made on subjects including: the amendment of the Divorce Act; the use of unbundled legal services to promote access to justice; the use of mandatory mediation where at least one party is self-represented; the provision of limited legal services in family law matters by paralegals; and, the use of standardized questionnaires by lawyers screening for domestic violence.
Comparing the Views of Judges and Lawyers Practicing in Alberta and in the Rest of Canada on Selected Issues in Family Law: Parenting, Self-represented Litigants and Mediation was written by Dr. Lorne Bertrand and John-Paul E. Boyd and can accessed through the Institute’s website here.
A Toronto-based lawyers group has launched the “Self-Rep Navigators” to direct legal services towards self-represented litigants. Described as “a hub for connecting self-represented litigants to supportive lawyers and high quality resources both online and offline”, Self-Rep Navigators have established a website at www.limitedscoperetainers.ca and list lawyers who will take clients on a limited scope retainer/ at fixed fees for civil and criminal matters, and those offering the same types of services to family clients.
You can find the full write up about Self-Rep Navigators here.
Although the Ontario government’s unprecedented multi-year commitment to increasing legal aid funding continues to move forward, the National Self Represented Litigant Project cautions that celebration may be premature. In a recent blog post, the NSRLP congratulates the decision to increase legal aid funding, but poses a few critical questions about the implementation of aid distribution which has yet to take place.