Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Team Budgell "whacks" Canadian Bar Association British Columbia President!

Sharon Matthews
Dear President Mathews:

Someone has left a copy of BarTalk in my local coffee shop and I've just read your column about access to justice and the cost of legal sevices (

At the risk of stating the obvious, the relationship between justice and legal services is not as straightforward as lawyers would like to believe (and would like the public to believe). Many legal services - those that facilitate business transactions for example - have little or nothing to do with justice. And justice, the definition of which is arguably subjective and certainly depends on context, can be had without the involvement of any lawyer. For most of human history there were no lawyers, and then for a long time, very few. I hope you would not argue that justice is simply a commodity, the availability of which increases with the number of lawyers.

What I'm concerned about is that in today's overly complex and legalistic society, the legal profession wants to ensure that all issues between parties, no matter how minor, require resort to a formal system: the legal establishment's "justice system." I suggest that your column in the current BarTalk is a response to the widespread impression that the system is broken (which is precisely what Jim Middlemiss said in his column about the "showdown" between the B.C. government and the judiciary in the May edition of Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

You've closed your column with a comment I've seen many times before, that "the problems pertaining to access to justice are many and complex". I can make a strong argument for the opposite position, but perhaps if we had an honest and full debate of our positions we'd find the truth is somewhere in the middle.

We need to locate that truth before we can craft appropriate solutions.

When you and your colleagues are ready to have that debate, l'll be delighted to participate.

Chris Budgell

Dear Mr. Budgell:

Thank you for the e-mail.

Oh for sure. Perhaps the last word should go to former Manitoba Chief Justice Jeffrey Oliphant who in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press said he was seeing more and more self-reps probably because of the ever increasing cost of litigation. While some were seeking their 15 minutes of fame he had also seen some very good presentations.

Our experience? If you're prepared to get down and dirty, that is to say do the research, you can take a case a very long way. However, we wouldn't suggest defending yourself against a murder one charge.

So you see world's second oldest profession you too can be replaced.

Clare L. Pieuk


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