Canadian Judicial Council Issues Statement of Principles on Self-Represented Litigants and Accused Persons
Ottawa, 12 December 2006 – The Canadian Judicial Council issued a statement of principles today on self-represented persons, to foster equal access to justice and equal treatment under the law.
Commenting on the principles, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada and Chairperson of the Council, said "Ensuring better access to justice is a Council priority. The Council views the increasing numbers of self-represented persons who appear in the court system as a serious matter. These principles will assist key participants in the justice system to ensure that self-represented persons are provided with fair access and equal treatment in the courts".
Publication of the Statement of Principles follows extensive work by a committee of the Council chaired by the Honourable Marc Monnin, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba. He praised the contributions of all those who participated in the development of the document.
Chief Justice Monnin pointed out that "the Principles are advisory in nature and are not intended to be a code of conduct. However, judges and other participants in the justice system have a responsibility to promote opportunities for all persons to understand and meaningfully present their case, whether or not they have legal representation."
"After a detailed examination of the issue, the Committee concluded that self-represented persons are generally uninformed about their rights and about the consequences of the options they choose," said Chief Justice Monnin. "They may find court procedures complex, confusing and intimidating and they often do not have the knowledge or skills to participate actively and effectively in their own litigation."
"The guidelines underscore the need for better information and tools for those who wish to represent themselves," added Monnin. "All parties to the system have a role to play in promoting equal access to justice for everyone, as well as for the timely and efficient administration of justice."
The Council hopes that the Statement of Principles will be a useful tool to foster better access to justice for Canadians.
The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada's superior courts. The Council's web site address is http://www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca
For further information:
The CJC Statement of Principles (Highlights)
A. To promote rights of access:
B. To promote equal justice
C. Responsibilities of the participants in the justice system – both justices and court administrators
For the full document please see: