Representation by Counsel
Our justice system including the Ontario courts want to ensure accessibility of the legal system to the public. One of the ways this goal is achieved is by relaxing the need for representation by legal counsel to only a few important situations. If you cannot afford a lawyer, then you are at least given a chance to present your case on your own in most cases.
When does a party need to be represented by counsel ?
In Civil court cases, parties may choose to self-represent pursuant to Rule 15.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, RRO 1990, Reg 194. Examples of Civil cases are motor vehicle accident lawsuits, slip and fall lawsuits, dog bite lawsuits, assault lawsuits, defamation cases, contract disputes, and so forth.
It is, however, highly recommended to obtain legal advice before choosing to self-represent yourself in court. A lawyer can explain all the legal issues and provide guidance as to procedure and identify risks associated with self-representation or the legal process. Legal representation, can be costly but on some cases like personal injury cases, lawyers can work on a contingency fee basis. Our judicial and court system is a complicated system. A self-represented party can often gain a false sense of confidence by « Googling » relevant case law from the internet, while failing to appreciate the tactics and decision making process that goes with an actual lawyer’s job. Moreover, the amount of money at play in personal injury cases is so substantial, that a procedural slip or other mistake by a self-represented litigant could be devastating and result in loss of claims or greatly reduced damages being awarded.
Finally, there is a certain decorum and certain pleadings rules one must have in front of the court. These are intricate and often not intuitive. Without the training and experience to know how to act in a courtroom, such bizarre customs can embarrass and intimidate the first time, self-represented party.
Small Claims Court
On the other hand, Small Claims Court was created in such a way to allow self-representation, on the understanding that parties would not necessarily hire a lawyer for a trifling matter. It hears matters on claims up to a maximum of $25,000 in damages and benefits from simpler rules dictating the proceedings: they are found online at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_980258_e.htm Moreover, it benefits from simpler appearance rules and is not as intricate as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice or the Divisional Court. Again, legal advice is always recommended to fully understand the pros and cons of self-representation, but the small claims court was created in such a way to permit more self-representation and diminish legal costs.
Our Ottawa personal injury and accident lawyers can assist you with any injury case you have.
If you or someone you care about was injured in an accident, please contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation. We work on a no-fee-until-you-win basis. Call us at 613-315-4878.