Green paper on civil justice reform

The Benchers are considering making a submission to the Civil Justice Reform Working Group of the BC Justice Review Task Force.

The Civil Justice Reform Working Group — co-chaired by BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner and Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel, QC — has so far backed an increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court that takes effect on September 1 and the introduction of an economical litigation process for claims of $100,000 or less in Supreme Court.

Last fall the Working Group also issued a green paper, The Foundations of Civil Justice Reform, which identifies cost and delay as problems in BC’s civil justice system.

At that time Attorney General Geoff Plant, QC said he was concerned that Supreme Court trials had become so expensive, time-consuming and complex that only large corporations, insurance companies and governments can afford to have their disputes resolved there.

The Working Group now points to court statistics from the past five years showing the number of cases in Supreme Court have dropped by half, but cases proceeding are taking twice as long to resolve.

The Working Group is now calling for fundamental reforms — more than what it calls “innovative off-ramps from the litigation highway.”

“Our planning for the future must take into account that, while adversarial values and litigation models dominate our theories about the civil justice system, it is in fact a system where the practicalities are all about dispute resolution,” the Working Group states in its green paper.

For background information and a copy of the green paper, see www.bcjusticereview.org. For a closer look at possible reforms, consider attending “Restructuring Justice,” a CLE course that includes consultations by the Civil Justice Reform Working Group. It takes place June 9-10 in Vancouver: see details on page 20.