Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers help parties reach closure on family files so each party moves forward successfully. Studies show self represented family parties stay in the family legal system longer with poorer results. Our Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers can provide limited retainer legal advice to help you to focus your arguments to help settle your family matters. Our Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers deal with unrepresented litigants on the other side in a respectful way that leads to a successful ending of the family law conflict. In today’s blog James Cudmore senior family associate at our Vancouver office deals with the risks of disaster you face when you act on your own in your Vancouver family dispute.
Our top Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers have 6 offices across BC and in Calgary Alberta and you can reach us toll free at 1-877-602-9900.
Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers Warn Self-represented Litigants still must follow Rules
A recent decision of the BC Supreme Court written by Mr. Justice Punnett is a welcome reminder that not having a lawyer is no excuse for not following the Rules of Court. As he said at paragraph 46 of his decision in Asthton v Hales 2017 BCSC 1928,
 The Rules exist for a reason. Their object is found at Rule 1-3. They impose structure, fairness and bring efficiency to litigation in the Court. They are not to be disregarded merely because a party chooses, or has no choice, but to represent themselves. To do so would be unfair to the other parties and raise the risk of injustice.
Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers Warn You To Get Help To Avoid Disaster
Our Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers note the background starkly illustrates the stakes:
- In British Columbia, parties who live together in a marriage-like relationship for a continuous period exceeding 2 years meet the definition of “spouse”, opening the door to an equal division of family property;
- The Claimant alleged that she and the Respondent lived together in such a relationship for approximately 3.5 years ending in summer 2012;
- The Respondent denied the spousal relationship at all, and said they only lived together for a period just under a year, ending in summer 2012;
- The Claimant was served with a “Notice to Admit” that the parties did not cohabit until July 28, 2011 and by not responding within the required time she was deemed to admit those facts;
- Her court materials filed in the proceeding also contained inconsistencies regarding when she says the parties began to live together;
- It was the Claimant who bore the burden of proof, on a balance of probabilities, establishing the marriage-like relationship for the required time.
In the result, the Court dismissed her claim. In doing so, Mr. Justice Punnett helpfully summarized previous decisions from other Courts on the issue of self-represented litigants and the role of the Judges in dealing with them. For example,
 While special concerns arise where a party is self-represented, those concerns do not lead to a disregard for the rules that govern our courts. In September 2006, the Canadian Judicial Counsel adopted a Statement of Principles on Self-represented Litigants and Accused Persons (Ottawa: Canadian Judicial Council, 2006). In Pintea v. Johns, 2017 SCC 23 (CanLII), the Supreme Court of Canada formally endorsed those principles (para. 4).
 The following extracts from the Statement of Principles are relevant:
- Judges and court administrators should do whatever is possible to provide a fair and impartial process and prevent an unfair disadvantage to self-represented persons (p. 4).
- Self-represented persons should not be denied relief on the basis of a minor or easily rectified deficiency in their case (p. 4).
- Judges should ensure that procedural and evidentiary rules are not used to unjustly hinder the legal interests of self-represented persons (p. 7).
- Self-represented persons are expected to familiarize themselves with the relevant legal practices and procedures pertaining to their case (p. 9).
 One consequence of this is that litigants who choose to represent themselves must accept the consequences of their choice. Lieb, at para. 16. As the Ontario Court of Appeal explained in Davids v. Davids, 1999 CanLII 9289 (ON CA),  O.J. No. 3930 (at para. 36):
Fairness does not demand that the unrepresented litigant be able to present his case as effectively as a competent lawyer. Rather, it demands that he have a fair opportunity to present his case to the best of his ability. Nor does fairness dictate that the unrepresented litigant have a lawyer’s familiarity with procedures and forensic tactics. It does require that the trial judge treat the litigant fairly and attempt to accommodate unrepresented litigants’ unfamiliarity with the process so as to permit them to present their case. In doing so, the trial judge must, of course, respect the rights of the other party.
And: As plainly stated in P.E.K. v. B.W.K. (2003), 348 A.R. 77, 2004 ABCA 135 (CanLII), “there are not two sets of procedures, that is, one for lawyers and one for self-represented parties” (at para. 7).  What the mother in reality is complaining about is not the failure of the trial judge to assist her in an understanding and even-handed way, but rather the fact that he did not provide her during the course of the lengthy trial with substantive legal advice and guidance to advance her position. The authorities just reviewed all support the conclusion that no judge can assist an unrepresented litigant in this way and at the same time maintain the essential appearance and reality of impartiality that is a core precept of the judicial function.
Get Help Early From Our Top Rated Vancouver Family Self Represented Litigants Lawyers 1-877-602-9900
It is not a requirement to be represented by a lawyer if you are involved in family litigation in BC. For many, the cost is simply prohibitive and out of reach. However, it is absolutely necessary to familiarize yourself with the basic procedures and Rules required of you when appearing in BC Supreme Court at trial or otherwise. It is essential to obtain some legal advice, even if paying for periodic advice is all that you can afford.