New Online Divorce “App”

This morning, the BC Ministry of Attorney General announced the new Online Divorce Assistant Application. This new online tool will assist people in BC to finalize divorces. It is intended to speed up processing times and to help get rid of filing errors.

Who is it for (currently)?

Applicants who:

The new Online Divorce Assistant Application
  • agree on all family law issues applicable to them – such as spousal support, and dividing family property and debt(s);
  • do not have dependent children; and
  • who intend to “joint-file” their divorces (work together, in cooperation, to get the job done).

Currently, 30% of the 10,000 divorces filed every year in BC are filed jointly.

How do I use the App?

You can use the Online Divorce Assistant on any smartphone or computer, but it is ideally viewed on devices that are at least tablet-sized. It takes about 15-30 minutes to complete.

What does the App do?

Once you go through the app and answer all its questions, you can print out the finished documents and take them to a BC Supreme Court registry for filing.

Will the App change over time?

According to the Ministry, “Plans are underway to expand the Online Divorce Assistant in coming months to include joint-filing divorces in cases that involve children.”

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | March 2018

For women leaving abusive relationships, the complication of dealing with the power and control issues of a violent spouse makes navigating the legal system more difficult. Some women give up and stay with their abuser because it is easier than leaving. Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) supports women leaving abusive relationships, through legal advice, representation and advocacy.

Introducing Harshada

Harshada Deshpande – Manager, Legal Services and Advocacy at BWSS

In her new position of Manager, Legal Services and Advocacy at BWSS, Harshada Deshpande is responsible for the management of the Legal Services and Advocacy Program (LSAP) team. She is also working on a number of on-going and new systemic advocacy projects and strategic interventions, such as the submission for the National Inquiry and the MCFD Advocacy Clinics (more on this below). Harshada co-authored (along with Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall and Manager of Direct Services, Rosa Elena Arteaga) the BWSS Open Letter to Justice Minister David Eby regarding the Provincial Court Family Rules Project.

Editor’s note: Thank you for providing us with this update on BWSS’ latest services, Harshada!

> Legal Services and Advocacy Program (LSAP)

Approximately 80% of the women who access our services do not have legal representation because they are ineligible for government-funded legal aid and cannot afford a private lawyer.

We provide legal information and legal advice in the areas of family law, child protection, and immigration law.

Our services also include: providing court accompaniments, document drafting, and support with preparation for court hearings and case conferences for unrepresented women.

We will take on full representation files based on: the current case load, availability of time, the number of law students volunteering at BWSS, and the complexity of legal issues involved. BWSS will also consider if the following applies:

  • the woman has been denied legal representation by Legal Services Society;
  • the woman has appealed the Legal Services Society’s decision of denial and the appeal was unsuccessful;
  • there are multiple barriers that prevent the woman from self-representation, including language, disability, complexity of legal issues, gender orientation, and impact of trauma;
  • the abuser is using the court system as way to intimidate or harass or to continue any form of violence;
  • the inability to privately retain a lawyer, such as financial difficulties; and
  • the legal issue is either a family law, child protection or immigration law

Call 604-687-1867 or 604-687-1868 ext. 307 to apply.

> Legal Advocacy Workshops

BWSS supports women leaving abusive relationships, through legal advice, representation and advocacy.

Who & What: For women who have or are experiencing violence in their relationships and require legal support with the resulting family law issues. Lawyers from the community with experience in family law will facilitate all workshops.

When: Every Wednesday, April 4, 2018 – June 6, 2018, from 10am – 12pm

Where: at the BWSS office – call 604-687-1867 for location

> Family Law Clinic

BWSS provides summary legal advice clinics in family law every month with volunteer lawyers from the community. These clinics are able to offer necessary summary legal advice to women on a continuous basis while they are unrepresented in the family law system.

Call 604-687-1867 for the clinic schedule.

> Court Forms Preparation Clinic

In partnership with the Amici Curiae Paralegal Program, BWSS provides assistance to unrepresented women with drafting Supreme Court forms in family law proceedings, including affidavits, desk order divorce applications, and financial statements.

When: Third Wednesday of every month, from 5:45-7:45pm

Where: Call 604-687-1868 ext. 307 for location and appointments

> The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

BWSS has been standing in solidarity with Indigenous women across Turtle Island in calling for a National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada since before British Columbia’s Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry (MWCI). On top of running a crisis line and offering legal, advocacy and counselling services, we are actively involved in a coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls formulated out of the failure of both group and family participation in the MWCI. Our efforts working in western Canada and northwest British Columbia through an initiative called Women’s Leadership and Training brought together Indigenous women to organize local responses to violence toward. We are an active long-time member of the February 14th Women’s Memorial March committee to honour Indigenous women who have lost their lives to violence in downtown eastside Vancouver.

In August 2017, BWSS was successful in obtaining Standing to make submission in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A team of dedicated and passionate women from BWSS, led by the Indigenous Women’s Program, in collaboration with the Legal Services and Advocacy Program, are currently in the process of drafting the written submissions in order to give a voice to the countless Indigenous women and girls who have accessed our services and continue to be invisible in the justice system.

> *Upcoming* MCFD Advocacy Clinics

BWSS is proud to be one of the first organizations in the province of BC to provide advocacy workshops to women who have involvement with the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD). BWSS’ Indigenous Women’s Program, in collaboration with the Legal Services and Advocacy Program, will be providing monthly clinics to women who have an open file with the MCFD. Staff and volunteers will provide women with short-term support, legal advocacy, court and MCFD meeting accompaniments, and strategic advocacy to support women in keeping themselves and their children safe. Watch this space for updates on the dates of these clinics!

Stay informed with BWSS:

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Top 7 Pages on Clicklaw Wikibooks

While we would prefer a world in which no British Columbian needs online help for their legal troubles, the pageview count for our Clicklaw Wikibooks website confirms that is not the world we live in. In reality, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians seek out timely legal information in the course of an average year. For many, this is their only line of support.

In 2017, Clicklaw Wikibooks — which uses the same software that runs Wikipedia — served nearly 940,000 pageviews to over 550,000 individual users. Each year we see these figures growing.

Whereas Clicklaw is a comprehensive legal information website centralizing reliable resources and services from numerous contributor organizations in a variety of formats and languages, Clicklaw Wikibooks is more like a publishing platform. It offers a bookshelf of select legal titles from organizations and independent authors or teams of contributors. These books are for the public and can be read online, downloaded as PDF or EPUB, or ordered by print-on-demand.

The most popular way for visitors to consume the 26 or so titles currently on Clicklaw Wikibooks is to read them online. Usually when we report traffic statistics, we think about the book as a whole. For example, JP Boyd on Family Law is easily the most read title in the collection accounting for about 40% of traffic. But today we look a little deeper to see what the 7 most popular content pages were on Clicklaw Wikibooks for January 2018, give a shoutout to those responsible for their review, and see what insights this data allows.

Surprisingly, for instance, while the overall traffic to JP Boyd on Family Law hints that relationship breakdown as the major legal concern, individual page stats reveal the most popular page from that title is on how to get married in the first place. Looking at the top performing pages can give us clues and help us question assumptions about the types of legal information people need.

Top 7 Pages on Clicklaw Wikibooks by Pageviews

Here is a list of the top seven pages on Clicklaw Wikibooks, the people responsible for their upkeep, plus some thoughts on what this might mean. The list reflects statistics from January 2018, plus relevant changes in a page’s position from January 2017. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments section below, or by sharing them with us on Twitter @Clicklaw.

#1 – If You Receive an Appearance Notice or Summons (Script_210)

This page from the popular Dial-A-Law collection by CBA BC attracted 5.18% of total site traffic, up from second position and 2.83% the previous January. That is an incredible figure for a site with over 1,500 pages of legal information. Many people first come into contact with the criminal justice system when they are served with an appearance or summons, so we can well imagine finding this page is a first step for many in addressing their problem. Knowing the significance of that step, what else could the page do or point to?

Kudos to lawyers Jordan Allingham and Paul Briggs for writing the page, plus Annie Chen of the CBA BC for the wiki version of this much valued resource.

#2 – How Do I Get Married in British Columbia?

As noted, JP Boyd on Family Law’s most popular page in January had nothing to do with getting divorced. Quite the opposite in fact… 2.82% of visitors came to learn about how marriage is brought to be, rather than how it decays. The page is up from #4 position in January 2017.

Thanks to lawyer Thomas Wallwork for maintaining this page, and of course to JP Boyd himself for his original work on it.

#3 – I Need to Take Someone to Court — What’s the Process?

A significant percentage of first time exposure to the legal system is when someone needs to start a lawsuit. The page attracted 2.43% of traffic, up from #6 position in January 2017, a rise quite possibly related to the Civil Resolution Tribunal’s introduction in 2017.

Long time Clicklaw Wikibooks editor and experienced lawyer John Bilawich deserves credit for this popular page from Legal Help for British Columbians that introduces the basics of starting a civil claim. So does the founding author Cliff Thorstenson. 

#4 – JP Boyd on Family Law

While the book has over 140 pages and accounts for 40% of site traffic, historically the main entry page for JP Boyd on Family Law has not been among top site pages (in January 2017 it was #13). This year, there appears to be more traffic from direct links to the book’s main page from websites run by LSS, the BC Provincial Court, private law firms, etc. Although overall the percentage of traffic coming from Google to the whole site has not changed over this period, a disproportionate amount of traffic to this main page now comes from referral sources. This speaks to the overall value of the title and the work of its many reviewing lawyers that make it a destination resource for others in the justice sector.

#5 – Immediately After Someone Dies

This page from People’s Law School’s title, A Death in Your Family, accounted for 1.81% of all site traffic last month. The equivalent page in January 2017 held #12 position at 1.59%.

Thanks to Helen Low, QC and Nicco Bautista for their skill abbreviating the legal and practical steps to take upon the death of a family member.

#6 – My Husband Sponsored Me and We Have Now Separated

For years, this page from Legal Help for British Columbians was the top destination page on Clicklaw Wikibooks with 2.86% of traffic. In 2017 it dropped to #3 and 2.65%. Today it’s settled at #6 position with 1.81% of traffic. Nearly 90% of this traffic comes from Google searches.

Thanks to Rochelle Appleby for reviewing this page over the years, and to its original author Cliff Thorstenson.

#7 – How Do I Prepare an Affidavit?

Up from #8 position in January 2017, this page from JP Boyd on Family Law accounted for 1.54% of traffic in January 2018. It continues to demonstrate the demand for practical, hands-on tips, and the fact that it derives a substantial greater proportion of its traffic from people who link to the page directly (34% versus the site average of 10% for pages) hints that this is a valuable bookmark for people.

Thanks again to Thomas Wallwork for reviewing the page over the years, and to JP Boyd for the original content and practical examples of how to write an affidavit.

Editor’s Note: Though these were the most viewed pages/titles on the Wikibooks over the past year, our other pages and titles also received an incredible amount of views. Thank you to all of our contributors and volunteers, whose work makes this initiative possible.

Stay informed:

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2017 Clicklaw & Wikibooks Survey Results

The 2017 Clicklaw and Clicklaw Wikibooks website user surveys ran for two months, from late October to late December. Here are some highlights from the survey results:

What stayed constant

  • Demographics – the majority (over 55%) are still people with legal questions, then those who are assisting others.
  • The reasons for visiting – to find legal information, then to find a person who can help.

Highlights for Clicklaw

  • Over a quarter of all respondents to the survey identified as Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) or were helping a SRL.
  • In hindsight, did Clicklaw increase users’ legal understanding and help them move forward to solutions? Yes, increasingly so. We saw:
    • 13% increase in those who strongly agreed that the information increased their understanding of a legal question or issue, and
    • 5% increase in those who strongly agreed or agreed that the information helped them take next steps.
  • There was a 10% increase in those who strongly agreed or agreed that they were able to find the information quickly and easily.

Highlights for Clicklaw Wikibooks

  • Did people find the info they were looking for in a Wikibook? Increasingly, yes. 4% more people strongly agreed or agreed, and those who disagreed or strongly agreed dropped from almost 19% in 2015, to less than 6% in 2017 – a more than 13% drop.
  • Was Clicklaw Wikibooks easy to use? Overwhelmingly, yes. 78% agree or strongly agree that the website was easy to use – a 7% increase since 2015. Fewer than 2% of users disagreed or strongly disagreed that the site was easy to use – an improvement from the almost 12% of users in 2015 who found the site hard to use.
  • Over 71% agreed or strongly agreed that Clicklaw Wikibooks helped them take next steps.

Comments from Users

There were also some great comments from users. We are promoting these through our social media channels, and I am sharing some of them here:

Continue reading »

Organization of the Month | November 2017

This month, we feature Consumer Protection BC, a Clicklaw contributor.

Consumer Protection BC is a provincial regulator that licenses several sectors (see Infographic below) and offers information and referrals to people in BC.

Meet Laura

Laura Cox is the Manager, Licensing and Information Services at Consumer Protection BC. Her team handles the licensing of all the sectors that Consumer Protection BC oversees, and also offers assistance to consumers.

What has surprised you most about working with your organization?

I joined our organization in 2012. It is surprising to see how many consumer calls and emails we receive which are outside of our mandate. We work really hard to provide consumers with the best possible referral, but in some cases the referral is to a lawyer, or court.

As a regulator, we oversee three different Acts, and many sectors. It was overwhelming to see how much I would need to learn.

It seems like that’s a widely held misconception–that you can help with any consumer issue.

[I think that because of our name] people assume we can help with any consumer issue, but that’s just not the case. We oversee specific laws and can only help when a potential violation of that law has occurred. This is why my team works so hard to ensure we have the right referrals for consumer issues that fall outside of our mandate.

What are some common referrals that you do make?

One of our top referrals is to the Vehicle Sales Authority–they oversee the retail sales of vehicles sold through licensed dealerships.

We also refer a lot of consumers to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Service (CCTS)–they can help consumers who have an issue with a cell phone, landline, cable, TV, or internet provider.

We have a page designated on our new website for our top referrals. To learn more about other agencies who can help consumers within BC visit our referral page here.

Do you have any interesting stories of clients you’ve helped in the past year?

Here’s a story we shared in our annual report (names and some details have been changed to protect privacy):

It was time to get his chimney fixed, so Eddy hired a masonry company to do the repairs. After quite a delay in getting any work done, the masonry company tried to convince Eddy he had a mould problem in his house and they could help. Eddy had a background in the trades and knew there was no mould problem. This was a red flag for him so he decided to cancel the contract and get his deposit back. Something just didn’t feel right. When the business owner stated all deposits were non-refundable, Eddy got nervous. “I’m pushing 80,” says Eddy, “and [the owner] was fighting me on this tooth and nail. At one point, I had to order him off my property.”

That’s when Eddy decided to reach out to Consumer Protection BC to see if they could help. It was determined the business didn’t have all the required content in their contracts and Eddy was within his rights to cancel. Consumer Protection BC’s involvement resulted in a full refund. Eddy stresses the importance of practicing due diligence when hiring someone to do work on your house and to make sure you ask around about the company’s reputation. “Normally I am very careful with these kinds of things,” Eddy says. “But sometimes you get caught off guard. I’m thankful things turned out the way they did.

That’s a great story. What else do you regulate in addition to consumer contracts?

We are responsible for enforcing the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act, and the Motion Picture Act, and the related regulations. Here is a helpful infographic that shows the sectors we license and regulate:

Thank you for sharing with us today, Laura. Last question–what are you most excited about, recently?

Our new website launch is really exciting! On top of this we continue to work on an online portal for our licensees. This will allow them to accomplish more online, which will save them time; they will also be able to make changes and renew their licenses really quickly.

Stay informed with Consumer Protection BC:

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Organization of the Month | September 2017

This month, we feature Legal Services Society (LSS), a Clicklaw contributor.

WHO WE ARE

The Legal Services Society (LSS) is a non-profit organization created by the LSS Act in 1979 to provide legal information, advice, and representation services to people with low incomes. Most people call us Legal Aid BC. Our priority is to serve the interests of people with low incomes. But many of our services are available to all British Columbians.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Every year we help tens of thousands of British Columbians with:

  • serious family problems,
  • child protection matters,
  • immigration issues, and
  • criminal law issues.

We do this by providing a range of services that help people resolve their legal problems. These services include legal information, legal advice, and legal representation. Our services are offered at legal aid locations throughout the province or by calling 1-888-577-2525.

WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON?

Our Community and Publishing Services department is our legal information branch of Legal Services Society. Here’s what they’re working on:

Since it’s launched the site has had over 36,000 users. The Make a Will pathway has been used around 5,600 times and the Make a Separation Plan pathway is just below that at around 5,400. We’ve also done extensive user testing since the launch. If you’ve used MyLawBC in the past, check it out again and complete a 2-3 minute survey about your experience with MyLawBC.com. You could win a cash prize of $100. If you want to let others know about MyLawBC, see the Communication Kit.

  • Community Partners

LSS partners with 26 agencies in BC to provide legal information, connect people to the LSS call centre or local agent, and/or connect people to other legal help. We call them our community partners. The contracts are small, but the impact is big because the front-line workers do other jobs for their agency that put them into direct and frequent contact with people who need legal help. For a complete list of locations and the names of our partners, visit the Community Partners webpage and the Clicklaw HelpMap (for an interactive Google Map).

  • New and upcoming publications about Gladue Rights and First Nations Court

We have a suite of publications letting people know about Gladue rights and First Nations Court. These are:

  • What’s First Nations Court? – This fact sheet explains restorative justice, how you get into First Nations Court, where First Nations Courts are located, who’s at First Nations Court, and what a healing plan is.
  • Your Gladue Rights – a plain language booklet about Aboriginal peoples’ rights under the Criminal Code of Canada called Gladue rights.
  • Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing – This infographic poster shows when Gladue rights apply for Aboriginal people during the criminal court process, and when to get a Gladue report or prepare an oral Gladue submission.
  • Coming later in 2017 will be the Gladue Submission Guide and the Gladue Report Guide which help Aboriginal people, advocates, and intermediaries make Gladue reports or submissions. Clicklaw blog subscribers will stay up to date with new publications like these through the Bi-Monthly Update Series.

Get the latest updates about Legal Services Society

Sign up for the newsletter at The Factum.
 

Stay informed with LSS:

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Final Report of BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project

We previously discussed “Unbundling” in this introductory post.

In short, unbundled legal services means clients pay for some assistance depending on: (1) what they want help with and (2) what they can afford. It is ideal for clients who value cost predictability and prefer to play a more active role in their own legal matter.

The BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project has now released their Final Report, which gives some more background on the project designed to encourage more BC family lawyers to offer unbundled legal services to BC families who wish to resolve issues arising from separation and divorce through out-of-court processes including mediation. The Report details the project’s activities, and contemplates the future of the project.

The Report also highlights places where you can learn more about Unbundling, namely the unbundling website: http://unbundling.ca

You may also access the Unbundling Roster on the Clicklaw HelpMap here.

Please spread the word with your colleagues, friends and family; as the Report notes, the Roster “will only be effective and sustainable if the public knows about it and uses it.”

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | July 2017

This month, we feature Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS), a Clicklaw contributor.

Meet Samrah

Samrah Mian is the Intake Coordinator for the Community Law Program at CLAS. Samrah acts as the first point of contact for all clients and advocates accessing the Community Law Program’s services. She listens to their stories, gleans relevant information, helps clients gather documents from various sources in order to complete a program intake, and links clients and callers to other resources and referrals when appropriate. She also plays a role in community outreach, public legal education and research, and works towards program goals surrounding residential tenancy.

Thanks for talking to me today, Samrah. Can you tell me more about what you do?

I was hired about a year ago at CLAS, in a newly created position, intended to streamline and simplify intakes with the hope that clients could quickly reach someone who would be able to help them immediately and that this would lessen the load on the rest of the program staff.

What I truly appreciate is the diversity of the work that my job involves. I’ve been given the opportunity to become involved in public engagement, conducting research and learning more about poverty law topics that interest me.

Can you tell me more about what your Community Law Program (CLP) is working on?

Besides providing direct services to hundreds of people every year, we’re involved in a number of systemic advocacy actions.

Our program is active in lobbying for changes to residential tenancy laws and procedures at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). We supported the new legislative amendments that allowed tenants fleeing family violence to be able to end their fixed-term tenancies early and we actively work with the RTB to improve practices.

Outside of residential tenancy, our recent work includes a case that resulted in the repeal of discriminatory income assistance policies and we are currently challenging the validity of forced psychiatric treatments under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We also intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in a human rights case that will determine whether the BC Human Rights Tribunal can deal with complaints of workplace harassment involving co-workers, customers, contractors and other non-supervisory personnel in the workplace.

Very cool to hear. What about your direct services? When should people refer to CLP?

Here’s a handy chart:

A good time to refer to CLPNot a good time to refer to CLP
Your client has received an Order of Possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch and is required to leave their homeYour client has received a Notice of Eviction from their landlord
After a co-op board meeting, your client’s membership has been terminatedYour client is receiving letters from their co-op that threaten to cancel her membership if she doesn’t comply with their terms
Your client has been served with court papers from the bank holding the mortgage in the house that they live in Your client has missed a mortgage payment
Your client has received a decision from the Workers Compensation Appeal TribunalYour client has received a decision from a WCB officer
Your client has received a decision from the Social Security Tribunal or the Employment and Assistance Appeal TribunalYour client has been told that they are not eligible for income assistance by a government branch such as the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (now Social Development and Poverty Reduction)
Your client has had a human rights tribunal hearing and lost the hearingYour human rights claim has been accepted and you are seeking representation (in this case, the Human Rights Clinic would be a good referral)
Your client has received a decision from the Employment Standards TribunalYour client is being harassed by their employer and want to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch
Your client has received a decision from the Mental Health Review Panel or is being detained under the Adult Guardianship Act or has been issued a Certificate of Incapability under the Adult Guardianship ActYour client has been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act (if they have applied for a review panel hearing, they can apply to the Mental Health Law Program for representation)

Fantastic. I think that will be an excellent tool for people to have when making referrals. Anything else CLP is working on that you’re excited about?

We’re currently building self-serve website called BC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide where self-represented litigants can walk through the judicial review process and download templates that will make it easier for them to file for a review. In the past, this used to be a very long PDF but we’ve updated it to make it easier to follow. We’re also making different ‘streams’ for different legal issues. We currently have the residential tenancy and workers’ compensation streams up and we’ll be working on human rights and some other tribunals soon.

What’s the biggest misconception that people have about CLP?

One big misconception is that we can represent all clients in all types of legal matters for free!

The legal services that we provide through the Community Law Program are free of charge but, in reality, our program mandate is limited. We’ve done some work to spread awareness about this fact but we still get the occasional phone call from a client who wants our help in suing their dentist.

Our primary intake criteria is assisting low-income clients resolve their legal disputes when they have a decision from an administrative tribunal in the areas of work-related legal issues, human rights, government benefits, housing, and mental health law. In addition, we can also help individuals when their co-op membership is terminated, we can provide advice to low-income homeowners when their house is being foreclosed upon and we can help with certain situations in regards to adult guardianship.

CLAS serves the entire province of BC, and our other programs include the BC Human Rights Clinic, the Community Advocates Support Line and the Mental Health Law Program.

Thanks for clearing that up. I hope this helps spread the word, and better connects people to CLAS.

Me too. Speaking of connecting, we are holding our Working CLAS Blues fundraiser on October 26, 2017. If you’re in the lower mainland, we’d love it if you could join us for a night of music, dancing and social justice. Contact Dianne Bankay dbankay@clasbc.net for more information.

Sounds like fun. Last question–what’s something you enjoy when you aren’t working?

I volunteer at Battered Women’s Support Services Family Law Information Clinic along with a team of legal interns. I also spend time reading contemporary literature and listening to HowStuffWorks podcasts.

Stay informed with CLAS:

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Organization of the Month | June 2017

This month, we feature People’s Law School, a Clicklaw contributor and early Clicklaw Wikibooks adopter.

// New Website

PLS launched a new website yesterday at peopleslawschool.ca.

PLS is a BC non-profit providing free education and info to help people “work out life’s legal problems.”

The website is responsive and mobile-friendly, and it focuses on providing plain language legal information on areas where there isn’t a lot of information available online:

  • Cars & Getting Around;
  • Consumer;
  • Wills & Estates;
  • Money (additional content to come in the months after launch); and
  • Work (additional content to come in the months after launch).
Image 1: Document builder for Agreement for Sale of Used Vehicle

The new website focuses on clean, visual and interactive design, with practical tools such as template letters and document builders, that people can use to take steps to address their problem. For example, they provide a document builder so you can draft your own agreement when selling a used car (See Image 1). You can provide feedback on the beta site here.

In addition to providing linkages to their resources on Clicklaw, PLS continues to be a big contributor to the Wikibooks. PLS is committed to delivering information digitally, in addition to their in-person services and print publications.

// Justice Theatre

The Justice Theatre program stages interactive theatre performances in classrooms and community settings around the province, featuring legal issues relevant to the everyday lives of students and those with unique legal needs. In the months ahead, PLS will be working to develop curriculum resources for teachers to use before and after the Justice Theatre comes for their performance visits, working to have a more seamless integration with learning happening in the classroom.

// Online Classes

PLS will be developing a program to deliver classes online, zeroing in on their focus areas listed above, along with newer topics such as neighbour law. They will continue providing their in-person Learn @ Lunch sessions, as well as evening classes across the province with partnering community organizations and public libraries.

// Get Involved

There are many ways to contribute as a volunteer with People’s Law School – you can also sign up for their newsletter at the footer of their new site.

// Acknowledgements

Thank you to Patricia Byrne, Executive Director, and Drew Jackson, Legal Content Developer, for providing the information for this post.

People’s Law School would like to thank the Law Foundation of BC for their support in building the new website.

Stay informed with PLS:

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Big Changes to Small Claims

Small Claims under $5001

Last week, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT)–Canada’s first online tribunal–began accepting small claims disputes $5000 and under.

Small claims disputes that the CRT can resolve include a wide variety of issues between individuals and organizations. You can start with the Solution Explorer, the first step in the CRT process, to find information and self-help tools for your issue. You can also apply for dispute resolution right from the Solution Explorer.

If you go through to obtain a CRT order, it may be enforced by filing it in the BC Provincial Court. When you do so, it has the same force and effect as a judgment of the BC Provincial Court.

What about Small Claims over $5000?

The BC Provincial Court now handles Small Claims cases between $5001 and $35,000. The Court has put together a helpful page that goes over the changes, including:

  • types of disputes;
  • what the CRT can and cannot hear;
  • when a claim under $5001 can still be heard by the Provincial Court;
  • when the CRT might refuse a claim;
  • what to do when you are not happy with a CRT decision;
  • special procedures in Vancouver and Richmond; and
  • alternatives to court.

What resources & help are there for Small Claims?

With the help of Judge Ann Rounthwaite (retired), Digital Communications Coordinator for the BC Provincial Court, we have updated Where do I start for information on Small Claims Court?

This page provides a curated collection of helpful basics for all things Small Claims.

It includes a printable PDF handout with:

  • A summary of the resources; and
  • A short bit.ly link so anyone can quickly access the full list of links.

Other Provincial Court resources

The following Common Questions have also been updated:

Access all “Where do I start…?” questions and handouts at: bit.ly/clicklawbcpc

Stay informed:

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