Judges Assisting SRLsNSRLP
This month the NSRLP would like to highlight a recent decision by the Honourable Madam Justice Kristjanson of the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario. The case – Sae-Bin Im v. BMO Investorline Inc.– explores the extent to which judges must assist self-represented litigants.
In the case, Mr. Im brought a motion seeking leave to discontinue the action, with the intention of then bringing a new application for the same cause of action against the same parties. Justice Kristjanson, in hearing this request, recognized that this new application would not be brought within the two-year limitation period set out in the Limitations Act, and as a result would be unlikely to succeed.
In identifying that Mr. Im did not understand the consequences of his choice, and was both under- and misinformed on how this would affect his case, Justice Kristjanson explained clearly the limitations consequences that he would likely face should he move forward with this request.
Justice Kristjanson states that when a SRL is about to make a “critical choice, based on a clear misunderstanding of the law and procedure…” there exists a “…responsibility as a judge to explain the relevant law and its implications, remaining sensitive to the interests of the respondents”.
The decision is an example of treating SRLs fairly by making accommodations to ensure that they are able to represent themselves adequately. The evolving case law on judicial assistance to SRLs and other related issues is now being tracked by the NSRLP, and upon completion will be published as a new resource.