Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Courts Expanding Services to Unrepresented Litigants

The most recent issue of the Lawyers Weekly reports on efforts by some Canadian courts to expand services provided to self-represented litigants:
"With high numbers of unrepresented litigants arriving in courts across Canada, courts are updating and expanding information packages to assist them."

"But, court officials say, the demand and shifting of resources is placing undue stress on the system and affecting its work (...)"

"(...) on April 21, B.C. Supreme Court added an updated list of 24 packages of information for self-represented litigants covering issues such as judicial reviews, garnishments, chambers applications and fee challenges under the Legal Professions Act."
Other courts have taken similar initiatives. For example, my place of work has created a portal for self-represented litigants.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:

  • Canadian Judicial Council Statement on Self-Represented Litigants (December 17, 2006): "Self-represented litigants are often unaware of the workings of the justice system and can feel overwhelmed by all the rules of procedure. The set of principles proposed by the Council should guide judges, court administrators, members of the Bar, legal aid organizations in assisting self-represented ligitants understand how the justice system works."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Canadian Courthouse Library Survey (May 6, 2007): "Leaders of the Courthouse and Law Society Libraries SIG [of the Canadian Association of law Libraries] unveiled the results of a survey regarding public access (...) 27.6% of libraries have developed resources to assist members of the public in finding legal information or legal advice consisting of prepared printed brochures and research guides. These materials included electronic sources, pathfinders, online forms and Internet sites. 34.5% of the libraries indicated they were involved in access to justice projects with other organizations: training sessions for public librarians and university students, moot court tournaments for high schools or newspaper article series on public legal education ..."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Public Access to Legal Information (May 7, 2007): "At the 2007 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries being held in Ottawa until Wednesday, there was a session today on 'The Ultimate End User: the Public's Access to Law Libraries and Legal Information'. There were 3 presentations dealing with how law libraries and public libraries can respond to the growing number of self-represented litigants, as well with the generalized growth in the appetite of the public for legal information. "
  • Role of Public Law Libraries (June 24, 2008): "The most recent issue of the AALL Spectrum features an article about what are called public law libraries which are law libraries that serve the general population, including self-represented litigants."
  • CALL 2009 Conference - Research Projects by Members (May 27, 2009): "At this year's session, 2 CALL members presented the results of their research projects. The first was from Kirsten Wurmann of the Legal Resource Centre in Edmonton who presented the results of her study on the role and impact of librarians in the history and development of public legal education practice in Canada. Her paper is entitled The Role and Impact of Librarians in the History and Development of Public Legal Education (PLE) in Canada. "
  • Materials from Austin, Texas Conference on Self-Represented Litigants (April 7, 2010): "The Self-Represented Litigation Network is an open and growing group of organizations and working groups dedicated to fulfilling the promise of a justice system that works for all, including those who cannot afford lawyers and who go to court on their own. The Network brings together a range of organizations including courts, and access to justice organizations in support of innovations in services for the self‐represented (...) Public libraries are critical access points to government institutions. As times get tougher, it becomes more and more important that people have libraries where they can find out how to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of our society. It also becomes more and more important that libraries can show how important and effective they are at meeting this need."
  • Judges Struggling to Deal With Increased Number of Self-Represented Litigants (November 1, 2010): "This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly includes the article Judges grapple with unrepresented litigants that quotes Judge François Rolland, chief justice of Quebec’s Superior Court, on the growing and disturbing trend towards self-represented litigants (...)"

As well, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice has created what it calls an inventory of civil justice reforms in Canada. It contains descriptions of reform initiatives from across the country, as well as proposed reforms from law reform commissions, task force reports, and the like. This includes changes to court procedures, legal aid, initiatives aimed at helping self-represented litigants, and public legal education and information programs.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:48 pm

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