Introducing the SRL Case Law Database!NSRLP
We are thrilled to bring you the first, preliminary, Report on the SRL Case Law Database, which we have been working on for most of the past year.
The purpose of the SRL Case Law Database is to track the developing jurisprudence across Canada in cases that affect the positions of individuals appearing unrepresented. We are focusing on four themes: “vexatiousness”, cost awards, procedural fairness and accommodations. As the number of cases in the Database grows, we are expecting to be able to highlight patterns and themes relevant to self-represented litigants as evidenced by decisions reported by Canadian courts.
Today’s report – “Introducing the SRL Case Law Database” – describes the search methodology we have developed with the assistance of WestLawCanada to identify cases that fall within our parameters. The cases are being read and analyzed by a team of law students under the leadership of Lidia Imbrogno, using a common set of questions and factors (and a peer review model to ensure each case is read at least twice).
This preliminary report presents some themes we have noted in relation to the discussion of “vexatious” behavior by SRLs (only a small fraction of these cases result in formal vexatious litigant designations). This is the largest single group of cases so far. We have some initial observations to share about the concept of “vexatious” behavior generally, including its relationship to gender, and its impact on cost awards, and on outcomes.
As we continue to add cases to the Database (to date we have reviewed only family cases across the country, 2014-2017), we shall be able to present further observations on patterns of judicial decision-making.
We believe that the Database will be of interest and practical use to lawyers, judges, self-represented litigants (SRLs), and the public. In 2018, we will begin to publish detailed research reports on how these cases are being decided across the country and in individual provinces. Once we have completed our searches of family and civil cases back to 2010, we shall publish the complete SRL Case Law Database on the NSRLP website, where it will be searchable, downloadable and free.
We would like to thank our funders, the Foundation for Legal Research, and the Law Foundation of Ontario, for their support of this important project.