SOURCE: Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia

Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia

December 03, 2014 02:08 ET

Legal Challenge: TLABC Files a Notice of Civil Claim Against the BC Government

Jury Fees Are an Expensive and Unfair Barrier for Citizens Seeking Justice

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - December 02, 2014) - Today, the Trial Lawyers Association of BC (TLABC) launched a legal action that takes aim at the costly structure of jury fees forced upon people seeking justice through the courts in civil cases.

"The civil justice system must be available for everybody, not just corporations and the wealthy," said Darrell Roberts QC, the lawyer acting as lead counsel on TLABC's behalf.

The launch of this week's legal action follows a big victory for everyday citizens in October, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that British Columbia's structure of courtroom hearing fees was unconstitutional, as it prohibited access to the courts for people of modest means. Mr. Roberts was lead counsel on that case, as well, and was aided at Canada's high court by co-counsel Chantelle Rajotte. 

"The Supreme Court of Canada's decision on hearing fees was so important," Roberts explained. "It sent a signal that the courts should be available to everyone. The case filed this week is another step forward along that road."

Justice and fairness should prevail. The pursuit of justice and the need for fairness must extend throughout Canada's legal system. Access to the courts should not be cost-prohibitive for citizens. In terms of real dollars, litigants should not be forced to pay, 45 days before their trial, a deposit of $1,500, two-thirds of which ($1,000) is non-refundable, then have to pay, to the sheriff, deposits of $800 daily for day two through 10 of a trial, a deposit of $900 a day for the following 39 days and then a deposit of $1,200 a day for every trial day beyond that. The fees are a massive impediment to people who require access to the courts.

Mr. Roberts was also lead counsel, years ago, in the effort to extinguish BC's unfair tax on legal fees, which remains in place and brings the BC Government $145 million annually. 

As with the dire need for legal aid, our governments - provincially, federally and in all jurisdictions - need to provide a fair and solid framework that people can rely upon.

The justice system is not a business. Yet, at present, jury fees deprive people of the right to have their cases heard by a civil jury.

This is fundamentally unfair and discriminatory to the vast majority of citizens.

The jury system needs to be protected from those who want to dismantle it. Juries are a hallmark of democratic society.

It is the right of Canadian citizens to pursue or defend a civil claim before a jury. This is an achievement of justice, because it serves the public interest and it must be maintained as a sacred aspect of our legal system.

Attachment Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2014/12/3/11G027674/12825927_1_Notice_of_Constitutional_Question_FILED-205916675463.PDF
Attachment Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2014/12/3/11G027674/12825938_1_Notice_of_Civil_Claim_FILED_Dec_2_2014_-450514028476.PDF

 

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