In July of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada made a ruling in a case called R. v. Jordan. This case has impacted our Civil Justice system in the Province of Ontario, in addition to the Criminal Justice system to which it was targeted.
In the Jordan decision, the Court held that Superior Court cases will now have up to 30 months to be completed, from the time the charge is laid to the conclusion of a trial. Provincial court trials should be completed within 18 months of charges being laid, but can be extended to 30 months if there is a preliminary inquiry.
The impact of the above on the Civil Justice system is that priority is now being given to criminal matters in order to ensure cases are not dismissed. This problem is amplified as many accused, who may have previously plead guilty, are now holding out longer with the hope their charge will be dismissed for delay. This has increased the number of cases making their way through the system.
The impact of Jordan, on a system that already doesn’t have enough Judges because the Federal Government is studying how Judges are appointed (maybe they could just use the old system for now until they figure out a new one?) is massive.
Civil cases are being bumped so that criminal matters can be heard. This means increased legal fees for civil cases as lawyers are having to prepare more than once to argue the same case. That is not fair to civil litigants who deserve the same access to justice as those in the criminal system.
We need more Judges and we need them now.
Inga B. Andriessen JD