Vive Le Canada

Middle class can't afford justice, top judge says
Date: Friday, March 09 2007
Topic:


Middle class can't afford justice, top judge says

Last Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2007 | 4:44 PM ET

CBC News

The cost of justice is beyond the reach of many middle-class Canadians, the chief justice of the Supreme Court said Thursday.

'Their options are grim: use up the family assets in litigation, become their own lawyers, or give up.'

—Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin Access to courts is necessary for people to obtain justice, but the cost puts it out of reach for anyone but the rich or the poor, Beverley McLachlin said in a text prepared for delivery to a Toronto audience.

"The Canadian legal system is sometimes said to be open to two groups — the wealthy and corporations at one end of the spectrum, and those charged with serious crimes at the other."

The first group has money, and the second legal aid. She added a third group, families who can get legal aid when the welfare of children is at stake.

But that still leaves average Canadians outside the system, McLachlin said. "Their options are grim: use up the family assets in litigation, become their own lawyers, or give up."

People who represent themselves — 44 per cent of litigants in one court — pose a challenge to the courts, because they don't know the procedures. They cause delays and increase costs, for the public and for the other side.

Lawyers and judges are making "modest progress" to help ease the pressure, she said.

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/03/08/mclachlin-justice.html

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