The Advocates' Society Calls on Governments, Courts, the Bar and Justice Stakeholders to Take Action to Solve Delay in the Civil and Family Justice System

The civil justice system is critical to every person, family, organization and business in Canada, and to the peaceful and democratic society in which we live. However, Canada's civil and family justice system is in crisis. Many Canadians wait months or years to have basic civil disputes scheduled and heard by the courts. Lengthy delay in the delivery of civil justice is a critical barrier to access to justice for Canadians.

On June 29, 2023, The Advocates' Society published Delay No Longer. The Time to Act Is Now. In this call to action, The Advocates' Society calls on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to urgently dedicate additional resources to the civil and family justice system, and calls on all stakeholders in the justice system, including governments, the courts, the bar and the public, to take immediate and concerted action to solve the endemic delays plaguing the delivery of civil and family justice across Canada.

Read Delay No Longer. The Time to Act Is Now.

Lisez-le en français ici (N’attendons plus. Il est temps d’agir).

The call to action starts with a reminder to stakeholders why the civil justice system is essential to all of us, resolving disputes among citizens and ensuring the rule of law. The call to action sets out the endemic delay plaguing the delivery of civil and family justice across Canada and how it affects the real people and businesses who need help resolving their disputes. The call to action then highlights the severe and far-reaching impacts of delays in civil justice: delay compromises access to justice, damages the rule of law, turns litigation into wars of attrition by parties with deeper pockets, undermines substantive results for litigants, encourages the privatization of civil justice, and saps public confidence in the justice system.

The call to action concludes with ideas for stakeholders to explore in solving the problem of delay. The Advocates' Society emphasizes that while the current crisis calls for immediate action to lessen delay, a piecemeal approach will not solve delay over the long term. The civil justice system must be the subject of global and comprehensive consideration, with a view to developing a coordinated plan of action that targets the root causes of delay.

Some of the ideas The Advocates' Society suggests exploring are:
  • measuring delay and setting targets;
  • increasing resources for the justice system and deploying those resources flexibly with the use of technology;
  • improving the use of technology, especially to schedule court hearings; and
  • reviewing procedural rules that pose roadblocks to speedy justice.
The Advocates' Society further emphasizes that lawyers can play a key role in reducing the delays that plague the civil and family justice system.

The Advocates' Society looks forward to working with other stakeholders to facilitate meaningful change.