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Passage of Bill 161 could mean more self-represented litigants

Emmett Bisbee in The Lawyer's Daily expresses his concerns about the dramatic consequences of the passage of Bill 161. The author argues that the bill weakens the mandate of Legal Aid Ontario and will ultimately lead to fewer Canadians having access to legal aid services. The consequence of this will undoubtedly be more self-represented litigants in the court system. 

We know that self-represented litigants have worse outcomes from the legal system than do people with proper representation. As Bisbee states, "Among the many disadvantages of self-representing, SRLs are more prone to making tactical mistakes during proceedings, not understanding their rights, thinking solely about whether they would go to jail (and not other relevant considerations), pleading guilty immediately just to get out of jail or to lift bail conditions, poorly cross-examining witnesses and 'making accidental and damaging admissions.'" 

The Canadian Bar Association has gone so far as to say that judges and lawyers are, “united in the belief that unrepresented litigants fare worse in court and experience poorer outcomes compared to those who have access to lawyers.”

Click here to read the full article at The Lawyer's Daily.