Report expected in December, 2005

New working group targets civil justice reform

A new government working group with representatives from the judiciary and the legal profession will recommend reforms to the BC Supreme Court civil process, Attorney General Geoff Plant, QC announced on September 27. The Attorney expressed concern that Supreme Court trials are now so expensive, time-consuming and complex that only large corporations, insurance companies and governments can afford to have their disputes resolved there.

The Civil Justice Reform Working Group — expected to report out by December, 2005 —is part of the BC Justice Review Task Force and will be co-chaired by BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner and Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel, QC.

They are joined on the working group by Madam Justice Laura Gerow, of the Supreme Court of BC, Associate Chief Judge Anthony Spence, of the Provincial Court of BC, Master William MacCallum, of the Rules Revision Committee, Richard Margetts, QC, representing the Law Society of BC, Jim Vilvang, QC, representing the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, Helen Pedneault, Assistant Deputy Minister, Court Services Branch, Barbara Young, member at large and George Macintosh, QC, member at large.

The Civil Justice Reform Working Group will focus on the interests of BC Supreme Court users and participants, specifically:

  • Accessibility: dispute resolution processes, including trials, that are affordable, understandable and timely;
  • Proportionality: procedures that are proportional to the matters in issue;
  • Fairness: equal and adequate opportunities for parties to assert or defend their rights;
  • Public confidence: confidence of the parties that the civil justice system will meet their needs and is trustworthy and accountable;
  • Efficiency: ensuring the civil justice system uses public resources wisely and efficiently;
  • Justice: ensuring the truth, to the greatest extent possible, is ascertained and applied to produce a just resolution.

The BC Justice Review Task Force was established on the initiative of the Law Society of BC in March, 2002 and is a joint project of the Law Society, the Attorney General, the BC Supreme Court, the BC Provincial Court and the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. The Task Force is also focusing on family justice and criminal justice reforms. For more information, visit www.bcjusticereview.org.