Tell the Chief Judge what you think about online publication of criminal court information

Update: Extension of deadline to October 1, 2015. In light of the interest shown in the issues raised by the Consultation Memo, the Chief Judge has extended the time for members of the public to make written submissions. Comments are now sought on or before October 1, 2015.

By the Provincial Court of British Columbia
Cross-posted from eNews

Visit the Provincial Court of BC website:

The B.C. Provincial Court appears to be the only criminal trial court in Canada that provides remote online access to adult criminal court case information. You can access accused persons’ names, charges, bail orders and sentences through Court Services Online (CSO).

Online access like this raises unique tensions between fundamental principles of open courts, the presumption of innocence, and the extent to which personal information should be widely circulated when the outcome of a criminal charge is something other than conviction. The Court’s current policy is not to display case information on CSO after a case has ended if the case has resulted in a stay, withdrawal of charges, or an acquittal or dismissal. The Chief Judge is also considering whether to adopt a policy not to display information about cases that have resulted in “peace bonds” under section 810 of the Criminal Code.

Because there has not been a broad public discussion about what the limits on online publication of criminal case information should be, the Chief Judge invites members of the public, including the media, to comment on these aspects of judicial policy. A Consultation Memorandum has been posted to the Provincial Court website. It outlines the issues and asks for your views. Your comments and discussion will help the Chief Judge determine whether these policies need adjusting and whether they achieve an appropriate balance between openness and privacy considerations.

The Consultation Memorandum also deals with another issue. Members of the media have found that CSO blocks access to case information whenever a publication ban is made. The memorandum explains how publication bans work on CSO and why this blocking happens. The Chief Judge also invites comment on this policy and suggestions for reasonable alternatives.

Please read the Consultation Memorandum to find:

  • information about the policies limiting access to case information when a stay, withdrawal, acquittal or dismissal has been entered;
  • reasons for considering a change to include peace bonds, options for change; and
  • information about the effect of publication bans on the information available on CSO.

Then please send your comments by September 18, 2015 to: Re: CSO Policy Consultation
CSO Policy Consultation
Attention: Mr. Gene Jamieson, Q.C., Senior Legal Officer
Office of the Chief Judge, Provincial Court of British Columbia
337 – 800 Hornby Street, Vancouver, B.C.

… and share them on Twitter @BCProvCourt.


Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #2

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b

Our last Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) case study showcased Consumer Protection BC’s online platform.

Resolve your dispute with Consumer Protection BC’s online platform

We have an update: the platform will be used as an early resolution tool for select BC-licensed debt collection agencies. Their aim is to help consumers who don’t feel comfortable speaking to debt collectors over the phone, and who would rather communicate online.

Visit Consumer Protection BC’s blog page for more info on the debt collection pilot project.

Small Claims BC

We now continue with our ODR series, this time focusing on Small Claims BC.

British Columbians who have disputes where the amount is no more than $25,000 turn to Small Claims Court to find a resolution. However, on average, claims take over a year to reach a judgment. provides British Columbians with an alternative way to settle disputes without going to court using their ODR platform. Using ODR can help save time and money, which make sense as priorities when you are disputing a smaller amount.

Click to enlarge infographic


New users to the platform will be asked a series of questions to create an online profile before starting their claim. If you already have an account set up as a “returning user”, you need only enter your credentials to access the dashboard.


Enter your information to complete your online account. This creates a dashboard where your claim(s) can be accessed and managed.

Continue reading Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #2


Justice Theatre Heads to Haida Gwaii for Restorative Justice Forums

By People’s Law SchoolJustice_Theatre

This fall, the People’s Law School launches the first two of its Access to Restorative Justice Community Forums on the Haida Gwaii Islands. The forums, held in partnership with the Haida Gwaii Restorative Justice Program, will take place in Queen Charlotte City on September 15, 2015 and in Masset the following day. Additional restorative justice forums are scheduled for later in the fall in Prince Rupert and Terrace.

The aim of the community forums is to increase the use of restorative justice processes by victims of crime. The forums plan to address issues such as:

  • How can victims of crime and offenders have better access to the restorative justice approach?
  • What needs to be done to strengthen the relationships between police-based victim services and restorative justice agencies?

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime by addressing the needs of victims, engaging the community in the justice process, and encouraging dialogue and healing. Restorative justice involves bringing together the victim, offender and members of the community to discuss the effects of the crime. At a restorative justice session the focus is on the impact of the crime and how to address the harm that was done.

In this approach, crime is understood not only as breaking the law, but as a violation of people, relationships and a disruption of the peace in the community.

Restorative justice principles draw from Aboriginal experience and tradition, including the belief that the community has primary responsibility for addressing crime.

You can find a description of restorative justice on the JusticeBC website.

Read more


Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada?


How did Bill C-51 become law?

You’ve probably heard some rumblings about Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. You likely don’t hear about most bills unless you are actively interested in law or politics, but Bill C-51 has struck a chord with everyday people who are concerned about their privacy rights. Here are some places you can go to learn about Bill C-51.

Do you know how Bill C-51 became law on June 18th? We’ll try and break it down for you.

Some basics first

canada_flagCanada’s Constitution defines the government’s powers and your rights. It includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitution is the supreme law of Canada and all of our laws must conform to it, whether made by our courts or government law-makers (legislators). More on the Constitution here.

There are two primary sources of Canadian law (Quebec is an exception):

Continue reading Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada?


Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #1

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is joining the legal landscape in BC, but many people–even some lawyers–are unfamiliar with its processes. We are covering the emergence and expansion of ODR in BC in a series of blog posts. (See our introduction here.)

In recent ODR-related news, the Civil Resolution Tribunal or “CRT” (which we discussed in our first post) has appointed 18 tribunal members. They will hear strata property and small claims cases, and will be able to make decisions that are binding and enforceable like court orders. You can read the press release from the CRT and BC Ministry of Justice here.


In today’s post we focus on Consumer Protection BC’s ODR platform, a neutral online space where people can settle disputes with businesses, without going to court.

Click to view full infographic
Click to view full infographic

We created an infographic (below, right) which provides a snapshot of the process, from start to finish.

We tested the ODR tool ourselves, giving you an inside peek into the process, with screen captures to provide visual context.

Important note: the steps we took here are not exhaustive of the ways that you can resolve a dispute using ODR.

step01Create an account.  When you start a new dispute you will be asked questions regarding the nature of your complaint.


But wait, there’s more!


Introducing the CanLII Primer from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project

Today’s guest blog post features a new resource for those preparing for the presentation of their cases — in court, in chambers, or as part of a negotiation or mediation. It focuses on how to navigate CanLII, a free legal online service. This resource is available via Clicklaw.

By Dr. Julie MacfarlaneNSLRP
Professor of Law at the University of Windsor & Project Director

As part of my 2011-12 study of the experiences of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in Alberta, BC and Ontario, I asked each of the 259 SRLs I interviewed to tell me what was the most useful on-line resource they had used in preparing their case.

By far the greatest number singled out CanLII, the Canadian electronic case and legislation database. One told me “CanLII is the best thing for a self represented person ever…” Many talked about the hours they spent poring over cases in CanLII.

CanLII received a million hits – in March 2015. How many of those were self-represented litigants, I wonder? Continue reading Introducing the CanLII Primer from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project


Make-a-Will Week – Resources

Wills are rarely a hot conversation topic, but they are essential tools for responsible planning and are now applicable to persons considered “mentally capable” and 16 or older in BC.

Completing a will is usually a relief.  If you have been thinking about a will for yourself or if you have family members who have yet to take that step, the next few weeks are an excellent time to start.

April 6 to 12 is Make-a-Will Week in BC
April 6 to 12 is Make-a-Will Week in BC

Note: If you have a very small estate (little to no assets), making a will may not be necessary. However, it is a good idea to seek legal advice about this.

April 6 to 12 is Make-a-Will Week, and a number of organizations and legal professionals are coming together to donate their time and effort to help people write their will or bring an existing will up to date.

At the Wills Resources page on the Courthouse Libraries BC website, there are lists of wills-related resources for everyone—from lawyers to people who aren’t familiar with the law:

  • print resources (texts) available at select Courthouse Libraries BC branches or through the Lawyers’ Reading Room,
  • online resources available through Clicklaw and other websites,
  • people and organizations that can help, and
  • informational events available to the public for the month of April.

This page will be updated with new resources and events at least for the month of Make-a-Will Week. The PDFs are printable and shareable.

If you would like to make a suggestion for a resource, please email us.

Want to share the Wills Resources page? Use this short redirect URL:

Photo credit: Freepik


Online Dispute Resolution in British Columbia

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b

The increase in number of self-represented litigants has created need for justice reform. The cost and time associated with bringing an action to court has urged the BC Government to re-examine the justice system and to take a closer look at needs and requirements of people looking to resolve disputes.

A shoutout to Freepik for this great graphic.
Resolve your dispute online–anytime, anywhere.

A BC Judges report (p. 19) in 2010 showed that 90% of Small Claims parties are self-represented; it can take up to 16 months (p. 27) for a small claims case to be heard. At the higher court level, less than 3% (p. 90) of BC Supreme Court civil cases ever make it to trial. These barriers form ongoing frustrations for the public trying to navigate a daunting court system on their own with limited resources.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is an online platform that allows parties in a dispute the chance to come together online either in real time or at each party’s convenience to negotiate, reach an agreement and avoid going to court. Other jurisdictions, such as the UK Judiciary, have examined ODR. BC is also looking at merging modern technology with the traditional court system to resolve disputes.

The government established the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) in 2012 with the idea to increase access to justice. As as a new part of BC’s justice system, they are building from the ground up and expect to have it working later this year. The concept envisions an online dispute platform that can be accessed by the parties 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Primary focus will be on small claims matters and strata property disputes. The CRT builds on lessons gleaned from a number of pilot projects tested previously in BC.

In 2011 the BC Ministry of Justice started testing ODR, with initial focus on tenancy and consumer disputes. Participation was voluntary. The case volumes were low but results proved encouraging in terms of resolution and user satisfaction.

Today in BC, ODR experimenting continues with organisations such as Consumer Protection BC, BC Property Assessment Appeal Board and Small Claims BC. Mediate BC tested ODR for family matters.

Legal Services Society’s upcoming MyLawBC may give future consideration to the ODR platform: “The MyLawBC platform…could be expanded to include online mediation and arbitration services.”

A future blog post will give a glimpse into how ODR is utilized by Consumer Protection BC and Small Claims BC. We tested their dispute resolution tools and will walk you through the processes. To be continued…

Update 05/13/2015: See Case Study #1 on Consumer Protection BC’s ODR platform here.

Photo Credit: Freepik


7 Most Popular Clicklaw Resources of 2014

At Clicklaw, we use Google Analytics to track which pages are getting the most views, as well as where people are following through and clicking on links to resources and services on other websites.

There are of course other factors to consider in calculating resource helpfulness, but here is an interesting snapshot of the seven most viewed and clicked resource topics and links of the past year:

1) HelpMap: The Clicklaw HelpMap helps provide access to free low-cost legal advice and legal information services in BC. helpmap.jpgYou can look for services related to a particular topic in a particular city in BC using the search tool located on this page.

Although people referred to fact sheets and written resources, it was clear that many were also seeking additional in-person help. Our most popular service pages referred to were for the Family Justice Centres and Court Registries in BC.

Continue reading 7 Most Popular Clicklaw Resources of 2014


Public Libraries and Nidus Personal Planning Events

Recently, Courthouse Libraries BC’s LawMatters program partnered with Clicklaw contributor Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry to celebrate their Personal Planning Month with a series of events. LawMatters asked public libraries to host some Nidus events and 9 libraries signed up for a series of 15 public events, including presentations and webinars for the public. Over 400 people attended the free events that explained Representation Agreements and other planning tools.

The launch of the series was held at Vancouver Public Library and attracted over 250 people. A panel of speakers included an innovative example of using audience participation to get the message across. Watch the video of “Gonna Get a Rep Agreement” sung with ukelele to “Sentimental Journey” – it was a crowd hit!

Capacity crowds also attended presentations by Nidus staff at the Burnaby, West Vancouver and Richmond Public Libraries.

Other libraries throughout the province were able to host several Nidus webinars for the public. The webinars brought crowds as large as 50 people to libraries in New Westminster, Kitimat, Victoria, Greenwood, North Vancouver District and Whistler. Nidus presenter Joanne Taylor encouraged questions from the audience through virtual chat.

Comments from webinar host librarians included:

“Feedback from the audience overall was very positive, and several people said that Joanne’s presentation was easy to follow given how complex the subject was. I especially appreciated Joanne showing her face briefly to say “hello” and put a face to the voice.”

“We had 50 people attend our webinar. I didn’t have any technological glitches reported to me, which is good! I think there was a fair bit of community interest in this webinar, so I’m glad we were able to host. There was a lot of interest in the next webinar about Representation Agreements.”

“Audience response – all were appreciative. One Credit Union employee attended and said she had never heard of Nidus, and that the info would be useful to her at work–I’m guessing maybe they get requests to access accounts by family or friends of people with dementia and now can direct them to Nidus to get a representation agreement.”

Librarians also collected some feedback from patrons:

“This was an extremely useful program. I was unaware of Representation Agreements and signed up for the workshop because I am thinking of updating my will. This workshop provided invaluable information on a topic everyone should be aware of. As a person now retired and feeling the pinch of a lower income, to be able to access this legal information at no charge was most helpful.”

“I appreciated being given information from a legitimate source in an environment I trusted. No selling or unwanted advice given! I would be interested in attending similar events.”

“I found the discussion session very useful. It was much better than watching a webinar on my own.”

Nidus offers a regular monthly series of free webinars, and any library or individual can register for future events on the training page. Nidus also offers training to the intermediary and legal communities, and a well-received session was held recently for Access Pro Bono lawyers.