Sunday, August 12, 2007

Access to Justice a Basic Right...Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin

The justice system risks losing the confidence of the public when "wealthy corporations," or the poor, who qualify for legal aid, have the means to use the court system, she said, noting that for "middle-class" Canadians, resolving a legal problem of any significance often requires taking out a second mortgage or draining their life savings.

With this message in her speech before the Canadian Bar Association in Calgary Alberta, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin has issued a call to governments, lawyers and judges to find solutions to the "crisis" to the access to justice that is imperiling the country’s legal system that is becoming expensive and complicated.

In her speech, she declared the access to Justice a "Basic Right" for Canadians, like Education and Health Care.

The Chief Justice Added:

"The price of justice should not be so dear". McLachlin said in a speech to the bar association's governing council at the opening of a four-day legal conference here.
"Something must be done," she urged. "We must all get on the same track and move down it together."

There's "no point" in having a justice system that nobody can afford to use, McLachlin said. "We need to keep the justice system relevant and available to Canadian men, women and children.

Echo of Tommy Douglas call to keep the Health Care available to all Canadian men, women, girls and boys. And the call was heeded.

Commenting on recent cover story of a weekly magazine portraying lawyers as money-grubbing and unprincipled by one of the members in his recently published book, Lawyers Gone Bad the Chief Justice said name-calling and exaggeration would not help.

The process to Criminal Justice has become complicated of late after the passing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, where an accused can tie up too much of a court time challenging the constitutionality of the law and the admissibility of evidence.

On the civil side, the use of pre-trial hearings known as "examinations for discovery," which can drag on for months and even years, as well as an increased tendency to rely on expert witnesses, is contributing to longer trials ,chief justice McLachlin said, with often devastating consequences for litigants.

"People need prompt resolution of issues so they can move on with their lives or businesses."

toronto star..Justice for All