“Access to Justice is Access to Information”: Guide to Civil Litigation for BC SRLs launched

“Access to Justice is Access to Information”: Guide to Civil Litigation for BC SRLs launched

Dom Bautista’s Paralegal Litigation Users Group (“Plug 5) has achieved something quite remarkable – a comprehensive walk-through of the civil litigation process in the British Columbia Supreme Court, complete with template forms and documents. The purpose of the Guide is spelled out in its introduction: “To the self-represented litigant, this guide was written for you. It is designed to simplify court procedures in your quest for a legal solution.”

Instead of focusing on the problems that arise from working with SRLs, this group has taken the practical step of equipping them to be more functional in an overwhelmingly complex system that is unfamiliar and intimidating. At their Vancouver clinic for SRLs, Amici Curiae volunteers have watched the rising anxiety of those seeking help as the sessions draw to a close each week: “’Now what?’ they ask silently. Afraid. Bewildered. Anxious.”

The 200 page document is detailed and comprehensive and written in accessible language that provides definitions of key legal terms, explanations of the process, and useful models and examples throughout. It can be accessed and downloaded at http://lawcourtscenter.camp7.org/Resources/Documents/Law%20Courts%20Center%20Guide%20to%20Civil%20Litigation%20for%20SRLs%20in%20BC%20v140925.pdf

The Guide will create important new possibilities for SRLs filing in the Supreme Court of in British Columbia, and empower many with new knowledge and context. At the same time, no matter how well the Guide achieves its purpose – “(I)n the judicial system, you should have the same opportunity to present a legal claim as a person who can afford a lawyer’s services” – its inevitable complexity (and length) is a reminder of just how difficult the civil justice system is for even the best educated among us to navigate. There will be some SRLs for whom the world so comprehensively described and explained in the Guide will confirm their fears – that civil litigation has become an incredibly complex and time-consuming process.

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Comments (3)

  • Geina Cutts

    BCCA civil rules: Transcript

    Dear Sir/Madam;

    Specific to BC Court of Appeal civil rule Part 5 – 20 “a justice may exclude any testimony from the transcript”. The requirement for an indigent Appellant to provide a transcript is an onerous one. Access to justice may be denied when extenuating circumstances exist and the Appellant cannot afford the cost of a transcript. Where is the remedy found in the civil rules? And, if the Appeal is based on documentary evidence, only?

    The merits of the case may never be addressed and as a result, access to justice is unavailable. I am one of the thirty percent of self-represents in BC Court of Appeal. On two court applications I attempted to find a resolution with regard to the mandatory provision of a transcript. On the first application, I asked that the Defendants pay for the transcript and on the second application I clearly noted that I was unable to pay for a transcript, and as a result my application was dismissed. The argument was never heard and had the argument been heard, just resolution based on the merits of the case would have prevailed.

    Without delving in depth of the matter before the courts, the Defendants argument is based on a proposed real estate contract, and it was not found at trial, that a proposed real estate contract is not a valid contract and does not exist. The decision maker erred in her findings and misconceived the facts. The interior design and illustrations have never been paid for by the Defendant. Furthermore, the Appellant plead that the Defendant did not act in good faith.

    In my respectful submission, had the merits of the Appeal been heard without a transcript, and based on a review of the documents, I would have been successful in my Appeal.

    Sincerely,

    This email was in reply to BC COURT OF APPEAL request for public input regarding BC COURT OF APPEAL rules and the court’s efficiency when hearing self rep’s. I will need assistance with regard to preparing the draft document application to BC Court of Appeal re: ” a reconsideration of Justice decision, a discretionary decision”

    February 3, 2015 at 6:27 pm
  • sandra olson

    all very handy. but the attitude of the court is still complete contempt for the srl. you have a better chance of sun tanning on the beachs of the antartic then you do of finding justice in the courts of british Columbia. the courts do not provide access to all material needed for the trial, they rush to summary judgement to close the door to questions they don’t want to answer, and they do not follow any rules of evidence properly. judges AND lawyers will treat you rudely, with contempt, slanderously, etc etc, and I cannot begin to explain the fraud in what is passing in the courts for EXPERT evidence. no one questions it at all. and if you ask for this, legal right to do so, you will encounter the wrath of hell from the courts for SUGGESTING that it may not be correct. providing people with streamlined ways to get through a court system that is there to victimize you, and get rid of you as fast as possible is not necessarily success. the legal system in bc, needs to be completely dismantled, it is not working for anyone but the court system itself,

    February 3, 2015 at 7:39 pm
  • Access to Information: Resource Development and Open Sourcing | The National Self-Represented Litigants Project

    […] Litigation Users Group in the creation of a 200-page manual for SRLs using the BC Supreme Court (https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/02/03/access-to-justice-is-access-to-information-guide-to…). There continue to be impressive efforts to enlarge resources and enhance access to information […]

    February 14, 2015 at 7:58 pm

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