Several dozen Vancouver lawyers plan to withdraw their services this summer to protest a lack of legal aid funding.
At least 100 Vancouver lawyers plan not to take any legal aid clients for five weeks this summer, starting in July.
“Legal aid continues to be underfunded.”
The Trial Lawyers Association of BC’s Ben Doyle.
“We don’t want a situation where you see more and more people representing themselves because that is what slows down the courts.”
A similar withdrawal two years ago saw some cases thrown out because no attorneys were available.
The province announced two million dollars for legal aid this week, but Doyle that’s not nearly enough to cover how much self-represented litigants cost the already badly backlogged justice system.
Samiran Lakshman with the BC Crown Counsel Association says it now takes 11 months –on average– for a child protection case to be heard in family court.
He says the province needs more judges to deal with ongoing backlogs and scheduling delays.
“Last year, on March 31st, 2013, we had 130 judges or full-time equivalent judges and now we have five fewer provincial court, full-time judges. Disturbing part about that number is about 40 per cent of those are part-time judges.”
Lakshman’s expecting more judges to retire this year… creating even more vacancies.
He says one Surrey courtroom recently had six trials booked on the same day amounting to 32.5 hours of time scheduled before one judge.