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Court Fees Unconstitutional

Supreme Court of CanadaIn British Columbia, like other provinces across the country, it costs money if you want to have your day in court. Your lawyer charges a fee and there is a cost to gather evidence but did you know the government will also charge a daily fee to access the courtroom and judge? (No fee for the first three days, $500 for each day from four to ten and $800 for every day over ten.)

On October 2, 2014 however, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the ‘hearing fees’ charged by the Attorney General in BC were unconstitutional.

In striking the fees, the court considered that impoverished people may not be able to access justice. They further held that the current fee schedule may also affect litigants who are not impoverished by subjecting them to undue hardship, effectively preventing access to the courts.

The proper remedy is to declare the hearing fee scheme as it stands unconstitutional and leave it to the Legislature or the Lieutenant Governor‑in‑Council to enact new provisions, should they choose to do so.

For now, fees are set aside unless the government decides to reset the fee schedule in a manner that will permit a fair access for all.

To read the full decision click http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/14375/index.do

Daryl Brown
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