Your Only Source of Paralegal News ~ April 18

Ministry of the Attorney General

Photo: Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario Considering Putting Tribunals into Online Dispute Resolution

Disputes in the Social Justice cluster of tribunals — including Landlord & Tenant, the Social Benefits Tribunal and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario — may be moved out of the public system, to an online dispute resolution system (ODR).

Brendan Crawley, Senior Coordinator, Media Relations Communications Branch with the Ministry of the Attorney General, confirmed the ODR plan is in the early planning stages.

“The Ministry of the Attorney General is aware of the potential for online dispute resolution and is in the early stages of considering its use for a number of ministry programs,” Crawley said. “It has potential application for resolving not only court disputes but also some kinds of disputes in administrative tribunals, as well as for taking some of those disputes out of the public system entirely.”

“ODR is one tool among a number to make the public dispute resolution system more efficient and accessible. It appears to have a good deal of potential in the medium term, but it is not without its difficult issues.”
Common law jurisdictions around the world are looking to ODR for private disputes, to save court costs and time, and make the system more accessible.

British Columbia introduced legislation in March, to have some condo and small claims disputes settled through binding online arbitration. Praised by the condo industry and legal community as a cheaper, faster method of resolving issues, the province’s site is expected to start handling cases this summer. Nova Scotia started using an online AMP system for Workplace Health & Safety infractions, in 2013.

Ontario’s Online DIY Ticket-Fighting Plan
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The Ministry of the Attorney General has launched consultations for an online system to handle some traffic tickets and other Provincial Offences Act infractions.

This “administrative monetary penalty system” would, if implemented, replace formal in-court procedures for resolving disputes. The consultation phase has been extended, to April 28.

The Ministry notes that the current system, which mirrors the criminal trial process, takes significant public resources, including costs for a justice of the peace, a prosecutor and the enforcement officer who laid the charge. “This is in addition to the inconvenience and expense often incurred by defendants, including the time and costs associated with finding legal representation, travel and child care costs, and taking time off work to attend court.”

“Convenient 24/7 access to online system that provides information, guidance and access to unbiased expert decision-makers. No need to travel to a courthouse.” ~ Ministry of the Attorney General
Under an AMP system, the person receiving a penalty notice would still have the option to pay or dispute the penalty, but through an online process. The ministry would “ensure that any new system is fair, effective and maintains the principles of procedural fairness, including the right to be heard before an unbiased decision-maker.”

Stephen Parker, president of the Ontario Paralegal Association (OPA), says that if the AMP system is implemented, it would affect “the vast majority of paralegals” who represent clients with provincial offences matters. “The OPA is already working on responding to the consultation document and will also be discussing this situation with the Law Society,” he said.

Tribunal News & Updates: Social Justice
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Non-Profit Providers and Owners Are ‘Co-Landlords': Board Review

Michael Gottheil, Executive Chair of the Landlord and Tenant Board, decided in a Review Order that the LTB has no jurisdiction to make orders related to a non-profit housing organization and the building owner it works with.

Gottheil found the bodies are co-landlords — not in a sub-tenant relationship.

CanLII and CanLII Connects provide free access to Canadian legal information. The public and legal professionals can easily find high-quality legal commentary on Canadian court decisions. See Scope’s Publisher Page for examples of good legal writing by, for and about paralegals. Here are some recent cases and summaries that are directly related to the paralegal scope of practice:

  • Filing under ESA precludes civil claims for the same issue: Polzin v Energy Limousine Inc, 2014 CanLII 34563 (ON SCSM)
  • Victim fine surcharge issue sent back to OCJ: R. v. Sharkey, 2015 ONSC 1657 (CanLII)
  • Diet doc ‘wins’ defamation suit, in six-year, $800,000 litigation that prompted the judge to reflect on the sorry state of affordable justice in Canada
  • Nunavut judge makes “fair and just” ruling to fill victim fine surcharge regulation gap, giving defendants time to pay
  • Corporate and personal liability for unpaid wages, other employment-related claims; workers are ‘creditors’ – El Ashiri v. Pembroke Residence Ltd., 2015 ONSC 1172 (CanLII)
  • Guide to using CanLII developed for self-reps
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    Convocation operates as a board of governors for the legal profession. Convocation sets policy and determines other matters related to the governance of Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals. Paralegal Scope is the only legal media that covers Convocation for paralegals, reporting on news and events that affect us. Click on a title to get the full article.

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