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‘The way we’ve always done it’ is not a reason to do something

By Inga Andriessen

There is a lot written these days about failure to innovate in business being an invitation to the end of that business. There is a lot of truth in that, but that is not what this blog is about. This blog is about business law and in particular, business litigation. There are many things that are done because we’ve always done them that way and that is not a great reason for us to keep doing them.

I suppose there is a danger this blog could quickly turn into a rant. I seem to get more positive comments about my rants rather than the “informative” blogs, so maybe I’ll just let it veer in that direction …. with that in mind, here are some things that need to change:

1. When lawyers, who have been on the file since the lawsuit started, meet at discovery, pre-trial, etc., there is no need to exchange business cards. All of our information is on the court documents. We’ve usually been in contact for months at that point. Your business card is not identification and it is not needed. When you give it to me in that situation, while I’ll take it, it’s going to be recycled pretty quickly.

2. Assignment Court. This is a step in a lawsuit that needs to be eliminated across the entire province. For non-lawyers, let me explain with this is: it is a day your lawyer goes to court, must wear robes (so you cannot send a student, who bills at a lower rate) and agrees with the other lawyer on a date for trial. Thankfully, many jurisdictions in Ontario have procedures in place that let lawyers try to agree on dates ahead of time and avoid Assignment Court, however, many don’t and it’s time to get rid of this expensive step completely.

3. Telling everyone to completely turn cell phones off in court is not necessary. The reporting equipment has improved. We can leave phones on (on silent mode) while court is in session. This particularly matters on a “Motions Court” day when a lawyer can be in the courtroom for four to five hours simply waiting to be heard. Let lawyers be productive when there is no reason to stop them from doing so.

4. Having a trial date that is “the week of” needs to end until the R. v. Jordan backup is resolved. That was really technical wasn’t it? Let me explain. R. v. Jordan is a Supreme Court of Canada decision that requires criminal charges to have a trial within two years (I think, I’m not a criminal lawyer, so I could be wrong). This has put a priority on criminal cases being heard. This means that one-day civil matters, which are put on the list to be heard during a specific week are often not heard because the criminal cases take priority. I recently had one case adjourned for the second time (first from December, now from June) because it was on a list with criminal cases.

This backup is caused in large part because new judges are not being appointed and we need them desperately.

I’ve got more, but then I’d have to write a blog about blogs that are rants and just go on forever and make the writer sound like an old lady yelling at kids to get off her lawn. So I’ll stop now. You’re welcome.

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