What is it about?The Law Society of BC is hosting an essay contest in honour of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The essay topic is “Magna Carta and its relevance to Canada in the 21st Century.” Students are asked to submit an essay that demonstrates an understanding of the significance of the Magna Carta to the rule of law, human rights and democratic principles.
Who can enter? The competition is open to students in a BC public high school in the 2014/15 academic year who are currently enrolled in, or have taken, Law 12 and/or Civics Studies 11 courses.
What can I win? The first prize winner will receive an award of $1,000 and will be invited to a special awards presentation event in Vancouver; the runner up will receive $500.
When do I enter by? Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.
Clicklaw, Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) and LawMatters are very pleased to let the public and legal information community know that the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch’s long-serving Dial-A-Law scripts are now on Clicklaw Wikibooks. They join a growing library of content from other key producers of public legal information, including People’s Law School, TRAC, BC CEAS and others including some authors CLBC helped to publish, such as Cliff Thorstenson and John-Paul Boyd. The collection of scripts will be printed in a 500+ page book to be shipped to public libraries in BC, at no cost to the libraries, in conjunction with the LawMatters program.
CLBC and CBABC announced this news by formal press release yesterday (April 14, 2015). It’s exciting since Dial-A-Law scripts are perhaps the longest-surviving example of the BC legal profession’s dedication to helping the public with free legal information. The scripts cover over 130 legal topics, and have existed in various formats for over 30 years. Dial-A-Law started in 1983 with help from the BC Law Foundation and its scripts have been edited by volunteer lawyers ever since. More information about the various ways you can access Dial-A-Law is on Clicklaw’s page for the service.
Yesterday’s announcement is significant because now the scripts are even more accessible. Clicklaw Wikibooks are all about keeping legal information in a single spot so that editors and lawyers can update it—this is one of the benefits of a Wikipedia-style platform—but letting the end user choose whether to print, read online, or otherwise export the content in a way that meets their needs. Users can download whole contents, or only portions, of Clicklaw Wikibook in PDF or EPUB. They can order a printed book for cost, or read it online. Continue reading CBABC’s Dial-A-Law Scripts come to Clicklaw Wikibooks
Most of the information available online is academic and focuses on what this means for legislatures (law-makers), but these decisions have implications for Canadians, and people in British Columbia. Different changes to the law could be made across Canada and in each province.
A new fact sheet produced by Nidus answers questions of more interest to the everyday person living in BC, such as:
Can I refuse health care? (Yes, there is law in BC saying that if you are 19 years or older and are “capable of informed consent”, you have the right to make your own decisions about care.)
Can I request help with dying when I am ready? (The short answer is no, but watch for changes.)
If I am incapable, can someone refuse care on my behalf?
What are the legal documents that apply?
Can a doctor refuse to give me life-supporting care? (This can be a confusing area of the law.)
Today’s guest blog post features a new resource for those preparing for the presentation of their cases — in court, in chambers, or as part of a negotiation or mediation. It focuses on how to navigate CanLII, a free legal online service. This resource is available via Clicklaw.
by Dr. Julie Macfarlane Professor of Law at the University of Windsor & Project Director
As part of my 2011-12 study of the experiences of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in Alberta, BC and Ontario, I asked each of the 259 SRLs I interviewed to tell me what was the most useful on-line resource they had used in preparing their case.
By far the greatest number singled out CanLII, the Canadian electronic case and legislation database. One told me “CanLII is the best thing for a self represented person ever…” Many talked about the hours they spent poring over cases in CanLII.
Wills are rarely a hot conversation topic, but they are essential tools for responsible planning and are now applicable to persons considered “mentally capable” and 16 or older in BC.
Completing a will is usually a relief. If you have been thinking about a will for yourself or if you have family members who have yet to take that step, the next few weeks are an excellent time to start.
Note: If you have a very small estate (little to no assets), making a will may not be necessary. However, it is a good idea to seek legal advice about this.
April 6 to 12 is Make-a-Will Week, and a number of organizations and legal professionals are coming together to donate their time and effort to help people write their will or bring an existing will up to date.
At the Wills Resources page on the Courthouse Libraries BC website, there are lists of wills-related resources for everyone—from lawyers to people who aren’t familiar with the law:
by Emma Wilson Peter A. Allard School of Law J.D. Candidate
Are you familiar with LSLAP? Maybe you’ve seen some of our students in court, or maybe you know someone who has used our legal services. The Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) is a student-run non-profit society dedicated to providing legal advice and representation to low-income people in the Metro Vancouver area.
LSLAP was started in 1969 by a small group of law students at the University of British Columbia. In 1978, we incorporated as the Greater Vancouver Law Students’ Legal Advice Society. We now have an independent Board of Directors and two paid supervising lawyers, but for the most part, LSLAP is still student-run and student-driven.
It can be very difficult for low-income earners to afford a lawyer, and even more difficult to represent themselves in a legal proceeding. LSLAP exists in order to bridge the gap between the services offered by publicly-funded legal aid and the many legal matters in which low-income people find themselves unrepresented.
We are happy to take on cases for people dealing with issues including but not limited to:
The increase in number of self-represented litigants has created need for justice reform. The cost and time associated with bringing an action to court has urged the BC Government to re-examine the justice system and to take a closer look at needs and requirements of people looking to resolve disputes.
A BC Judges report (p. 19) in 2010 showed that 90% of Small Claims parties are self-represented; it can take up to 16 months (p. 27) for a small claims case to be heard. At the higher court level, less than 3% (p. 90) of BC Supreme Court civil cases ever make it to trial. These barriers form ongoing frustrations for the public trying to navigate a daunting court system on their own with limited resources.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is an online platform that allows parties in a dispute the chance to come together online either in real time or at each party’s convenience to negotiate, reach an agreement and avoid going to court. Other jurisdictions, such as the UK Judiciary, have examined ODR. BC is also looking at merging modern technology with the traditional court system to resolve disputes.
The government established the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) in 2012 with the idea to increase access to justice. As as a new part of BC’s justice system, they are building from the ground up and expect to have it working later this year. The concept envisions an online dispute platform that can be accessed by the parties 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Primary focus will be on small claims matters and strata property disputes. The CRT builds on lessons gleaned from a number of pilot projects tested previously in BC.
In 2011 the BC Ministry of Justice started testing ODR, with initial focus on tenancy and consumer disputes. Participation was voluntary. The case volumes were low but results proved encouraging in terms of resolution and user satisfaction.
Legal Services Society’s upcoming MyLawBC may give future consideration to the ODR platform: “The MyLawBC platform…could be expanded to include online mediation and arbitration services.”
A future blog post will give a glimpse into how ODR is utilized by Consumer Protection BC and Small Claims BC. We tested their dispute resolution tools and will walk you through the processes. To be continued…
We recently launched a survey to study users’ needs onClicklaw Wikibooks, our collaboratively developed, plain language legal publications that are made available on the same open-source platform used for Wikipedia. Clicklaw Wikibooks provide information in a variety of formats, from browser-based reading, to PDF, to EPUB, or even print-on-demand, which is available to all users and is also used to print titles for CLBC‘s LawMatters program.
After selecting one of the titles on the site, users are promptedby a pop-up window, which asks them to answer a survey once they are finished browsing. At the end of their session, they are presented with a short survey about their visit, with a chance to enter a monthly draw for a $100 prepaid Visa Gift Card.
To prevent being asked to fill out the survey again on repeat visits, a cookie will be stored on the user’s computer after they have completed the survey. This cookie can be deleted or cleared by the user to view the survey again. Multiple entries will not be counted.
The contest is open to Canadian residents, though staff and contractors of Courthouse Libraries BC or Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family will not be eligible to enter. Depending on the type of survey the user is prompted with, they may be asked to enter a follow-up survey by email for additional chances to win.
TRAC provides information on residential tenancy law to tenants and advocates across British Columbia. Our services include a Tenant Infoline, legal education workshops, multilingual publications and a website/socialmedia. We work with all levels of government, other community organizations and the general public to promote the legal protection of tenants and the availability of affordable rental housing in BC.
Recently, we also launched our new website! The design is modern and clean, and our content has been organized in a way that allows users to quickly find answers to their legal questions.
Here are some of the highlights of our new site:
Tenant Survival Guide – One of the most popular legal publications in the province, our TSG offers a comprehensive yet plain language overview of tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities.
Template Letters –When issues arise during a tenancy, tenants should communicate their concerns to their landlord on paper. TRAC offers 27 template letters to use as a starting point.
Tenant Info Pamphlets – TRAC has created a pamphlet that covers the fundamentals of residential tenancy law, and translated it into 18 languages. For tenants whose first language is not English, this is where to look.
All content pages on our website can be printed as nicely formatted fact sheets. Online information is important, but so are hardcopy resources. Feel free to print and distribute our fact sheets to friends, family members, clients and landlords