Statement of Principles: CBA Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19

  • June 23, 2020

I. Introduction

The CBA Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 was established to assess the immediate and evolving issues for the delivery of legal services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force will also report on current changes to the justice system and make recommendations on how courts, tribunals and other dispute resolution processes can become more responsive to deliver their services differently to meet the needs of stakeholders both during and after the pandemic.

II. Principles

The Task Force’s work will be guided by the following principles:

Access to justice: The focus of the task force is on the people who seek justice and the ability of the legal and justice systems to advise and serve them in resolving their issues.

Impact on self-represented litigants: New measures and practices should address the needs, concerns, safety and security of self-represented litigants while also avoiding negative impacts on them. Wherever possible, judicial and tribunal procedures, technology, and decisions, should be easier to access, use, and read, to remove barriers to justice otherwise faced by self-represented litigants.

Health and safety: The health and safety of all justice system participants is paramount, and compliance with all applicable public health restrictions is essential.

Innovative, effective and efficient: The justice system has been stretched to its limit for years (backlog, unreasonable delays, etc.). This crisis has shown that the system needs meaningful reforms – short and long term - that emphasize innovation, effectiveness and efficiency.

Sustainable (post pandemic) measures: The task force has a particular focus on the opportunity to identify new and innovative measures and practices that are sustainable and can be permanently implemented to modernize and address long-standing challenges in the legal and justice system’s ability to better serve the people who need to access it.

Open courts: All measures must maintain the transparency of the judicial process in accordance with the open court principle recognized under s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Open courts are essential to a well-functioning democracy and judiciary and must be safeguarded against threats that would weaken its proper functioning.

Coordination and communication among justice system partners: All justice stakeholders have a role to play and must work together to identify and implement all measures as soon as possible. Effective communication among all stakeholders and jurisdictions is essential to share and maximize best practices.

Investments and resources: The task force will address investments and resources required to implement new measures, practices, and technologies. Investments and resources are required to address immediate needs, medium term issues and longer-term systemic changes to deliver justice more effectively.