2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: November/December

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in November and December:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


Legal Services Society

  • Gladue Submission Guide
    This new, plain language booklet for Aboriginal peoples explains how to prepare a Gladue submission to help the judge decide bail or sentencing. Includes a Gladue factors checklist and a worksheet to help Aboriginal peoples, lawyers, and Native courtworkers gather information needed to prepare a submission.
  • Your Gladue Rights
    This revised booklet explains Gladue rights, rights under the Criminal Code that apply to anyone who identifies as Aboriginal. Gladue rights can apply at bail and sentencing hearings.
  • Sponsorship Breakdown
    This updated booklet is for permanent residents who need help when the person sponsoring them in Canada is no longer supporting them.

Provincial Court of BC

  • CFCSA flowchart (Child Protection Matters)
    Chart shows possible stages and orders in child protection proceedings under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, with notes – statute sections are hyperlinked to the Act.
  • Criminal Case Flowchart
    Stages in a Criminal Case: These notes provide more information about criminal procedure – the procedures set out in the Criminal Code of Canada to be followed in criminal cases.
  • BC Provincial Court Common Questions
    General information about the Provincial Court and the BC justice system.

Disability Alliance BC Help Sheets Update

The following help sheets on BC’s disability benefits have been updated:

Small Claims Trial Preparation Clinic
by Seniors First BC

Are you a senior representing yourself in a Small Claims Court proceeding? Call 604-336-5653 to find out more about this Trial Preparation Clinic. A lawyer will call you back to assess if the clinic is able to assist.

Mothers Without Status
by YWCA Vancouver

This updated booklet is for service providers assisting “mothers without status”. It now has new content on MCFD and has been updated for immigration and Family Law Act changes.

Financing Litigation Legal Research Project
by British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI)

The paper reviews six financing models to pay for litigation: unbundled legal services, third-party litigation funding, alternative fee arrangements, crowdfunding, legal expense insurance, and publicly funded litigation funds. It also discusses 18 ideas on how to enhance the use of each model.

Operating in Darkness: BC’s Mental Health Act Detention System
by Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Mental health detentions in BC have increased dramatically over the last ten years. This report reveals several disturbing practices and points to a number of deep flaws in the BC Mental Health Act that do not comply with the rights guaranteed by the Charter and international human rights law.

2017 CEDAW Report Card
by West Coast LEAF

The annual CEDAW Report Card grades BC’s compliance with United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). BC’s record of action and inaction in the past year is assessed in nine key areas impacting the rights of women and girls.

The National Self-Represented Litigants Project

Charterpedia
by the Government of Canada

Charterpedia provides legal info about the Charter and contains information about the purpose of each section of the Charter, the analysis or test developed through case law in respect of the section, and any particular considerations related to it. Each Charterpedia entry cites relevant case law.

Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Stay informed:

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2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: March/April

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in March and April:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

  • Navigator for Youth Transitioning to Adult Services
    Youth with disabilities in BC face challenges when transitioning from childhood to adult services. This program helps youth aged 14 to 25, their parents and members of their Transition Support Teams, connect with the services they need, such as disability benefits, health services, or school supports.

Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Disability Alliance BC

The following help sheets are now available in 5 languages: Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Persian, Punjabi, Spanish.

Legal Services Society

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry

People’s Law School

Each of the following publications now has a fresh new look, new content, and more practical guidance. Both are available in multiple media formats: wikibook, EPUB (for reading on a tablet or e-reader), PDF (print version), and printed booklet (order via Crown Publications).

  • Essentials of Consumer Law
    Explains consumer rights for common purchases and contracts. Now includes a new section on making a contract.
  • Scams to Avoid
    Covers 15 of the most common scams. Now includes new sections on romance scams, charity scams, and expanded coverage of online and computer scams.

Provincial Court of British Columbia

  • Guidelines for Using a Support Person in Provincial Court
    Many self-represented litigants find that having a trusted friend or family member with them to provide emotional support, take notes, and organize documents can be a big help. The BC Provincial Court recognizes this, and has adopted guidelines to make it easier to bring a support person to court.

Common Question – Provincial Court Resources for Everyone: Small Claims Court

On June 1, 2017, the limit for small claims will increase to $35,000 from $25,000. This page has been updated to include this information and a link to the New Small Claims Procedures from the Provincial Court of BC. Note: The Provincial Court Resources pages will be updated for May 2017.

Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL)

  • Older Women’s Dialogue Project
    This project looks at law and social policy issues that affect older woman and explores what can be done to address barriers to their quality of life.
  • Older Women’s Legal Education Project
    A collaboration with West Coast LEAF, this project tries to enhance the capacity of seniors-serving professionals to support older women fleeing violence occurring in the family and to inform older women of their rights in situations of abuse.

Stay informed:

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An Introduction to BC Provincial Court Family Orders

This doesn’t need to be you.

In Provincial Court, you can get orders for: guardianship, parenting arrangements, child/spousal support, protection, and more.

See this page for general information and more resources on the BC Provincial Family Court process.

What is a court order?

An order is a statement of the court’s decision. It sets out what you and the other party (for example, you and your ex-spouse) must do.

Court orders must be prepared and filed, or “entered” into the Provincial Court Registry (click for locations).

Read the Legal Services Society (LSS) resource, “All about court orders” for more information about what kinds of court orders you can get, as well as options to pursue before the court makes a final order, to try and resolve as much of your case as possible without a formal court hearing.

Can I get a court order without a lawyer?

Yes.

If you and the other party agree about what you want the court to order, you can apply for what’s called a “consent order” and may be able to get it without attending court.

  1. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer will have the order typed and submit it to the Court. If you don’t have a lawyer, the other party’s lawyer will do this, but you should see a lawyer yourself to review the proposed order before you sign a document showing you consent to the order.
    • Click here to see where to find free or low cost legal advice on family law matters.
  2. Family Justice Counsellors can also help you with family orders.
    Family Justice Counsellors can help you with consent orders.
  3. If you don’t have a lawyer, another direct way to get a consent order is to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor (FJC) who can help you obtain or change an order in Family Court. FJCs work at Family Justice Centres located across BC; they provide free services for people of modest means. FJCs are specially trained to support families to reach agreement on issues of guardianship, parenting arrangements (including parental responsibilities and parenting time), contact and support. They can help you obtain or change an order in Family Court; including preparing the consent order and submitting it to the Court for you. They can also provide information and referrals, short-term counselling, mediation, help with various court forms, and more. In some communities, couples who separate must meet with a FJC before they are given a date to appear in court.
  4. As a last resort, if you cannot meet with a Family Justice Counsellor or get help from a lawyer, it is possible to prepare a consent order yourself. This LSS Resource with Tips on how to draft a consent order contains links to the BC Provincial Court’s website, where you can access a “Picklist” WORDdoc including standard Family Law Act (FLA) terms to help you draft the order. (To “draft” an order means to choose the wording and type it. See also: What does the FLA deal with?) However, both parties should talk to a lawyer to make sure they understand what they’re agreeing to before signing their consent.
    • “How to get a final family order in Provincial Court” explains what to do once you draft a consent order. If a judge approves your order, you won’t have to appear in a court room. However, if there are problems in the wording you choose or the information you provide, you may have to attend court to give the judge more information. This is why it’s so helpful to have a FJC or lawyer prepare and submit a consent order for you.

If, however, you and the other party ultimately don’t agree, you’ll go to court and the judge will make an order:

When?

  • If both parties agree by the time you get to court you can ask the judge to make a consent order on the day of your first court appearance.
  • When you go to court, you can ask for a case conference where you and the other party will meet with a judge to discuss the issues. If you agree during the case conference, the judge can make a consent order there.
  • Your matter can be set for a hearing or trial or an interim application. The judge will make an order after considering evidence and submissions.

Who does the drafting in this case?

  • This does not mean that the judge types up the order that is filed at the registry. The Rules require the successful party’s lawyer to do that.
    • However, if you are successful and do not have a lawyer, the court clerk (registry staff) prepares the order unless the judge orders otherwise. For example, if the unsuccessful party has a lawyer, the judge may ask that lawyer to draft the order.
    • If the other party’s lawyer will be preparing an order, ask the judge to permit you to approve its wording before the lawyer sends it to the Court.
  • Whether an order is submitted by a lawyer or prepared by the court registry, it will be checked by court staff and/or the judge to ensure it reflects what the judge said in court.

How should the court order be drafted, and why?

The order should clearly and precisely reflect the court’s decision. It should state who does what, to whom, when, and in some cases where or for how long.

It should be understandable even by someone who is unfamiliar with the case. This is because the court’s orders may need to be enforced by people who were not involved in the case.

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Use the Picklists provided by the BC Provincial Court to draft better family orders.

Poor Example of a term in an order:

John Smith will pay child support of $800 a month.

  • There would be problems enforcing this order if John did not pay. It doesn’t say who he must pay or when, among other details missing.

Better Example of a term in an order:

John Smith will pay to Jane Smith the sum of $800 per month for the support of the children, May Smith born June 1, 2011 and Lee Smith born July 3, 2012, commencing on October 1st 2015 and continuing on the first day of each and every month thereafter, for as long as the children are eligible for support under the Family Law Act or until further Court order.

  • This wording from the “Picklist” on the Provincial Court website makes it clear who does what to whom, when, when the obligation starts, and when it ends. Use the standard wording of Family Law Act terms provided in the BC Provincial Court Picklists whenever possible; this also helps with faster processing at the Registry: Click here for the Picklist Word Doc.

If a lawyer is involved, they will use their notes of what the judge said to draft the order. If the judge gives written reasons for judgment after trial, the order will be prepared based on these written reasons – you can also order clerk’s notes or a transcript of the proceeding, although this can take some time and is expensive.

The order can be in the following forms (Click here to access forms):

  • Form 20 for consent orders (see what else you need to file – special requirements for applications of guardianship of children and child support),
  • Form 25 for protection orders;
  • Form 25.1 for restraining orders; and
  • Form 26 for all other orders.

Click for links to all the resources

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 »

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