Representing Yourself at the SCC?

Late June 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada launched a new portal for litigants wishing to represent themselves before Canada’s highest court. The “Representing Yourself” portal provides litigants with step-by-step guides to both bringing and responding to an application for leave to appeal.

The portal likewise provides the self-representing litigant with a glossary of legal terms, templates for written motions and applications, and a list of commonly applicable rules of procedure.

Naturally, all this is provided with a much needed proviso:

Remember that this is a guide meant to give you helpful information, not legal advice. We always recommend that you get a “lawyer”. A lawyer is in the best position to give you advice about the process and the likelihood of success.

At times like this I am reminded of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s comments on the issue of unrepresented litigants in her address to the 2006 CBA Canadian Legal Conference & Expo (a video of which can be found at CPAC’s Podium Archives):

[Lack of representation in the courts] does create great problems, not only for the litigants who are struggling to put their case forward without the aid of a lawyer, but for the judge, who–in a system which is designed to function with an able and independent adversary on each side–finds themselves in the difficult position of trying to aid the unrepresented litigant to the extent possible…while maintaining the judge’s role of impartiality, of impartial arbiter…

The judiciary of Canada is trying to cope with this epidemic of lack of representation and we’re doing better I think. But these solutions are imperfect at best. People seeking justice need not only judges, they need lawyers: competent, independent and affordable lawyers.

I couldn’t agree more.

Join the conversation

Loading Facebook Comments ...