“Access to justice is a fundamental feature of any society committed to the rule of law. It is not a service which the State provides at cost, but an element of the State and its governance essential to the rule of law and the operation of a free market economy. The State is therefore under a duty to provide effective access to justice irrespective of the State’s ability to secure full-cost recovery.”
That was the opening salvo in a response from the Senior Judiciary of England and Wales to a consultation paper from the Ministry of Justice outlining plans to increase court fees based on criteria including the nature and location of the action and the presumed ability of the actors to pay.
One of the main obstacles to fostering a legal start-up culture in Canada (and even in the U.S.) is a highly regulated environment. A recent article of mine touches upon this: Essentially, in a fragmented market, where every jurisdiction has its own set of rules, would-be investors in legal start-ups are reticent to jump in, because they don’t have comfort that the product or service is scalable, and this is making life difficult for legal entrepreneurs. Here’s a passage from the CBA Legal Futures Consultation Report, which synthesizes some of the views on this issue:
Respondents who wanted to create new forms and structures of legal services were limited by the rules prohibiting outside investment in law firms. They viewed this restriction as stifling of transformation as innovation necessarily requires an environment that allows for capital infusion and diversification of structures. Innovators wished to have regulatory environments liberalized, but they also wanted assistance from the Canadian Bar Association in marketing legal start-ups to venture capitalists.
It remains to be seen what role the CBA can play in this regard. As for the law societies, it’s clear that changing the rules to allow for alternative business structures would go a long way to helping startups get off the ground.
Read more after the jump.
Catrina Denvir of the University College of London shares her findings on the utility of the internet in helping people come up with their own solutions to legal problems. She even focused on younger users:
Importantly, whilst participants increased their knowledge of rights as suggested above, this had little bearing on their views as to how the protagonist should handle the problem. Participants often gave inappropriate responses (such as seeking help from an Ombudsman or going straight to court) and failed to recognise the urgency of seeking advice. This suggested that their knowledge of rights did not translate into knowledge of the appropriate action.
Crucially, 65 percent claimed that they would not have the confidence to handle a similar problem alone despite 72 percent having scored 5 or higher when using the Internet to answer the rights questions. This was not true for the final year law students where the inverse relationship applied. Two-thirds of this cohort claimed that they would be confident handling their problem alone, even though their success on the knowledge questions remained comparable to other respondents. Finally, when determining what the participants would do when faced with a similar problem, the vast majority indicated they would seek help from family/friends and an advisor/representative on account of their professional or life experience.
Results at this preliminary stage suggest that there is an increasingly important role of the Internet to play in self-help, but that it is important not to overestimate its utility. For public legal education and self-help (in light of policy changes) we find that the Internet (imperfectly) increases knowledge of rights, but that this knowledge does not equal confidence or competence with regard to action.
February 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of Bill C-10, which represented the most significant amendments to Canada’s Competition Act in twenty years. Major changes occurred to the conspiracy, pricing, civil, and merger provisions (for more, scroll down to the bottom of the post). Indeed almost the whole Act was overturned, forcing lawyers to rethink how to approach this area of the law.
As part of a five-part blog series, five outstanding leaders in the antitrust field, of varying backgrounds, share their views on what these changes to competition law have meant, and will mean in coming years, for lawyers and their clients.
In today’s post, we begin with comments from the Authority himself, the Commissioner of Competition, John Pecman.
The Commisioner is known for emphasizing shared compliance, as well as awareness of the law, prevention, and advocacy. But business and lawyers can’t kid themselves; enforcement remains king in the new world. “We will vigorously enforce our legislation in the case of non-compliance. In other words, strong enforcement will be the stick to ensure that compliance occurs.”
What is consent?
More specifically, on how many levels does one have to consent to sexual activity?
That’s essentially what the Supreme Court will be ruling on when it delivers its decision on Friday in a case where a Nova Scotia man was convicted of sexual assault after poking holes in condoms in order to make his girlfriend pregnant.