BC Court Upholds Transcript Fees Requirement for Appeals but Pleads for Government to Act to Increase Access to Justice

On Friday, in Allart v. Alec’s Automotive Machine Shop (2003) Ltd., 2014 BCSC 476, Madam Justice Bruce of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that the appellant’s constitutional challenge of Rule 18-3 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules (appeals from Provincial Court, Small Claims) could not succeed. In so doing, however, she recognized the plight that many litigants face when dealing with an appeal from the Provincial Court, namely the costs of a transcript of the Provincial Court proceedings. In my view, while this case does not deal substantively with the issue as to whether the requirement that one pay the costs of the transcription of the proceedings below results in a barrier to access to justice, it raises tangentially the question as to whether access to justice has become an illusory concept for most Canadians.
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The Supreme Court Rules on the Eligibility Requirements for its Three Members from Quebec – Back to the Drawing Board for the Prime Minister

Another day and another defeat for the Government of Canada. This time, a six-to-one majority of the Court has ruled that the Prime Minister’s attempt to appoint Mr. Justice Marc Nadon, a supernumerary justice of the Federal Court of Appeal who, prior to his appointment to the Federal Court, had been an advocate of the Province of Quebec for more than 10 years, was not constitutional and his swearing in was void. Moreover, the Government’s attempt to amend the Supreme Court Act was found to be unconstitutional. Continue reading

The Court says “No” to retroactive punishment

Today, in the case of Canada (Attorney General) v. Whaling, 2014 SCC 20, the Supreme Court of Canada pushed back against one small element of the government’s “tough on crime” agenda, namely, the retroactive abolition of early parole for offenders already serving their sentences. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Charter‘s prohibition against double punishment (s. 11(h)) presented an insurmountable obstacle to the government’s attempt to get tough, not only on offenders who were to be convicted and sentenced in the future, but on offenders who had already previously been convicted and sentenced before the amending legislation, Abolition of Early Parole Act, took effect.

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The Internet Turns 25 Years Old – The Court and the World Wide Web


In one of my earlier posts, “Freedom of Expression and the Internet – The new realities of a cyberspace inhabited by copycats” (January 24, 2014), I provided the first installment respecting the relationship between freedom of expression and the courts in the World Wide Web. This is the next post in that series. The Internet is a relatively recent phenomenon but despite its youth, it has reshaped our human environment. After only 25 years, not only has it changed our economies and our social lives but it is penetrating deep into our jurisprudence. One might argue that the courts and the law are institutions that are slow to alter course. That is usually true. But at the level of the highest court in our land, the Internet appears to have seized the imagination of the justices.

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