TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - The Supreme Court of Canada released the decision in Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General) yesterday. The majority of the Supreme Court struck down legislation in British Columbia which obliged parties to pay fees to use courtrooms for trials.
In this case, the plaintiff in a family law dispute was charged fees of $3,600.00, which were nearly equivalent to the net monthly income of the family. In declaring the legislation unconstitutional, the Court's holding was consistent with the submissions of The Advocates' Society that these hearing fees infringed upon a constitutional right of access to justice and offended the rule of law.
Writing for the majority of the Court, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin stated: "As access to justice is fundamental to the rule of law, and the rule of law is fostered by the continued existence of the s. 96 courts, it is only natural that s. 96 [of the Constitution Act, 1867] provide some degree of constitutional protection for access to justice … when hearing fees deprive litigants of access to the superior courts, they infringe the basic right of citizens to bring their cases to court. That point is reached when the hearing fees in question cause undue hardship to the litigant who seeks the adjudication of the superior court."
"This is a very welcome and important decision," said Joseph Arvay, Q.C. of Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP, counsel to The Advocates' Society, which intervened before the Court. "The Supreme Court of Canada has clearly recognized that there is a constitutional right of access to justice and access to the courts. This is a clear win for citizens who are disadvantaged by the prohibitive costs of accessing the justice system."
To read the Supreme Court of Canada's decision, click here:
To read the intervention factum of The Advocates' Society, click here:
The Advocates' Society is an association of over 5,000 lawyers throughout Ontario and across Canada. The Society is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of professionalism within a fair and accessible system of justice. Learn more at: http://www.advocates.ca/
Image with caption: "The Advocates' Society (CNW Group/The Advocates' Society)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141003_C3425_PHOTO_EN_6297.jpg
SOURCE: The Advocates' Society