Supreme Court of Canada to Determine a Case Affecting All Self-Represented Litigants

By Mick Hassell

How much help should Courts give to self-reps?

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to rule on a case that will affect self-represented litigants across the nation.

The case is Valentin Pintea v. Dale Johns, et al. and a summary of the case is available by clicking here.

In a nutshell, the Court will address how far a Court should go to help a self-rep with poorly expressed legal argument, to what extent Courts should give leeway to self-reps on procedural issues, and the legal test for civil contempt as applied to a self-rep.

The questions, elaborated, are as follows:

  1. To what lengths should a court go to make sense of a self-represented litigant’s poorly expressed legal position?
  2. Should courts apply a contextual approach that recognized self-represented litigants’ lack of understanding of court rules or procedures, or should court rules and procedures be applied identically to all litigants?
  3. Is the current law of civil contempt applicable to self-represented litigants or is there a different standard that applies when a litigant does not have the benefit of representation by a lawyer?

The Self-Rep Navigators are following this leading case with interest, as it will impact all those who we serve.

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