07 October 2014

"Litigants' Rights and Responsibilities" Updated and Relocated

I have recently updated the content of the Litigants' Rights & Responsibilities page of this blog and moved it to a new home in my access to justice blog where it seemed to have a better fit. The transplanted page focusses on the rights and responsibilities of litigants without counsel, but applies to everyone who's involved in a civil court proceeding in Canada. The page talks about what litigants should expect from judges, lawyers and court staff, the help they can provide and they help they cannot. It also talks about litigants' obligation to learn about the rules of court, court processes and the law that applies to their proceedings.

I have been involved in a fair number of committees and organizations looking into rules reform, justice reform and access to justice over the years. Litigants' Rights and Responsibilities was something I first published in 2012 as a sort of bill of rights for litigants without counsel when I realized that we were spending a lot of time talking about the "problem" of self-represented litigants and the difficulties they at times pose for judges, lawyers and court staff, and not spending a great deal of time talking about the expectations litigants without counsel are entitled to have of judges, lawyers and court staff. Although the former approach is reasonable and understandable for those who spend their professional lives in the justice system, the latter recognizes that the justice system doesn't belong to us but to the clients whose need for justice it serves.

The contents of this page represent only my views and opinions, and I fully expect that others will take a different perspective on things; in all likelihood I have overlooked other important issues that need to be raised in the context of a discussion of litigants' rights and responsibilities. I welcome your contributions, comments and criticisms. In the meantime, I have preserved the Litigants' Rights & Responsibilities page here in order that the important comments that have been made since it was first posted will not be lost.