In over half of family law cases in Canadian courts, at least one party shows up unrepresented
Family lawyers in Toronto have are testing an initiative called Advice and Settlement Counsel Toronto, which aims to promote access to justice at the Toronto Superior Court of Justice.
According to a media advisory dated Jan. 13, the pilot project seeks to offer affordable and accessible legal services to self-represented litigants, given that, in more than half of family law cases in Canadian courts, at least one party shows up unrepresented.
Justice Suzanne Stevenson, who leads the family law team at the Superior Court of Justice, expressed gratitude on behalf of the court to Toronto family law lawyers for the “bar-led innovation.”
Starting Jan. 14, two private family lawyers may be consulted at the court, every Tuesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Friday, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., for a rate of $200, plus HST, for up to one hour of services.
According to the brochure, if the litigant wishes to retain the ASC lawyer for additional services, a new retainer agreement and a new payment scheme may be discussed. ASC lawyers are expected to provide legal advice within a limited scope, which is also set out in the brochure.
ASC Toronto was developed as a part of the broader Family Law Limited Scope Services Project, in cooperation with the Toronto Superior Court of Justice’s Family Law Bench and Bar Committee and the Judiciary and Court Services, with the help of funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario.