Legal Word of the Day: “Pro se”

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Pro se — Literally, “For self,” or representing on one’s own behalf.

A recent report outlined the experiences of pro se litigants, and makes recommendations for making the legal system more accessible to more Canadians, including by expanding the role of paralegals.

The right to self-represent in criminal trials is entrenched in Criminal Code section 800:

    A defendant may appear personally or by counsel or agent, but the summary conviction court may require the defendant to appear personally and may, if it thinks fit, issue a warrant in Form 7 of the arrest for the defendant and adjourn the trial to await his appearance pursuant thereto.
Further Reading:

R. v. Toutissani, 2008 ONCJ 139 (CanLII)
A self-represented litigant hires a non-licensee to represent him in criminal court, on immigration-related charges.

Law Help Ontario has resources for self-represented parties.

A Harvard blog references developments in Canada, regarding the self-represented.

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