nov. 16. 2020

The Need for Human-Centred Design in Ontario Courts

Paul v Veta, 2020 ONSC 6839 (CanLII)

Human-centred design is an approach to problem solving. The approach takes inspiration from real people and how they use products. It involves making prototypes, learning how users interact with them, and refining the product based on feedback. The goal is to end with a user-friendly product. To learn more about human-centred design: read here.

Our current court system would benefit from applying human-centred design. Right now the courts work best when litigants have lawyers. However, the Ontario Court system has an ever-growing influx of self-represented litigants, who struggle with court procedures.

Not only do self-represented litigants struggle, so do lawyers at times. If lawyers are having difficulty, what does that say about our justice system?

In Paul v Veta, 2020 ONSC 6839, Justice Myers painstakingly lays out to a lawyer the process for beginning an application in the courts. In this case, the lawyer struggled to follow the court processes. His request for an urgent hearing was denied due to a poorly drafted, unissued application on an unsworn affidavit.

Justice Myers laid out the process to issue an application properly:

  • Register for a One-key account
  • Under Rule 4.05.2(6), submit the civil document to the portal, using your One-key account, wait 5 days to get an email, to tell you if your document was accepted
  • Once the application is issued, Rules 38.06 and 39.01 require that the notice of application and all affidavits to be relied upon be served on all parties
  • Justice Myers also reminds readers that affidavits must follow the rules of evidence. Hearsay evidence is permissible on a motion. However, hearsay is restricted to collateral issues, which are not controversial.

    At paragraph 29, Justice Myers writes that a well-drafted motion is welcomed by the court. However, a poorly drafted motion is time consuming for a judge. “So, the tacit deal is that if counsel provide us with motions in writing that contain the necessary proof of facts and law, we are all too glad to sign them… I know of no judge waiting around to incur the extra time, effort, and frustration to reject well-prepared basket motions.”

    In sum, I welcome Justice Myers well written decision on the process of issuing an application. However, it is troubling that the court processes can be so complicated that even a lawyer had trouble deciphering it.