Ian Mulgrew: Legal system problems cost Canadians billions

June 28, 2016
Article Source
Vancouver Sun

From a Vancouver Sun column by Ian Mulgrew: The expensive ancillary costs and side-effects of the nation's dysfunctional legal system are becoming clearer, emphasizing that not enough is being done to modernize and improve foggy, often-futile proceedings.

In a continuing survey of the country's legal topography, blue-ribbon academics tracing the worsening access-to-justice crisis have detailed how individuals and government are paying the price.

The data produced by the Cost of Justice project (2011-2017), funded by a $1-million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, should be driving widespread law reform.

"These results support other findings that indicate that some Canadians, particularly those with fewer resources and those who see themselves more on the margins of society, do not view the justice system as fair, accessible or reflective of them or their needs," noted a recent 21-page overview.

While everyone knew the legal system was too expensive, until this work was undertaken, few knew what that meant for people trying resolve a problem — how much it actually costs them, how much time they wasted trying to engage?

What does it do to a person's physical and mental health? What were the real costs to someone's life and their livelihood? What kind of expenses ripple or cascade through the system when the courts and dispute-resolution tribunals don't work?

Nearly half of adult Canadians suffer a civil or family justice problem every three years and can't afford to use the legal system.

Their most common legal concerns involve consumer, debt and employment problems, followed closely by neighbour, discrimination and family conflicts.

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