The news this week included the Canadian Bar Association report that called for more funding for Legal Aid given the increase of unrepresented litigants before the Courts. This lead to much discussion about the number of people who are representing themselves before the Courts, and the impact on the Court system (slowing matters down).
As we are business lawyers, we frequently encounter unrepresented parties on the other side of law suits. These tend to be owners of businesses who believe they are better served spending their time in Court, rather than having a lawyer represent them.
When a party is unrepresented, the lawyer acting for the represented party must take extra care to ensure the other side understands exactly what the lawyer is trying to communicate to them. For that reason, we ensure that all correspondence with an unrepresented party be in writing: this protects our client and ensure the unrepresented party is being treated fairly.
When a party is unrepresented, the time to argue, even a simple matter before the Court, is generally double. This is because the Judge will often explain to the unrepresented party what is happening procedurally and the unrepresented party will generally not be focused in their submissions to the Court.
This is of benefit to no one. Parties who are represented have increased legal fees due to the increased length of time the lawyers spend in Court and the Courts take longer to process matters.
Is an increase in legal aid the answer? Certainly not for business. The biggest obstacle for business is a failure of unrepresented businesses to understand it is less costly for them to pay a lawyer than to go it alone. This is likely also coupled with the belief that all law firms charge very expensive rates for their services.
We are a reasonably priced Business Law Firm. It is more profitable for your business to use our firm than to go it alone. While we’re in Court, you can continue to run your business: that is what you should be doing.
Inga B. Andriessen JD