New hearing date for paralegal decision to be set Nov. 19

An application to overturn a Justice of the Peace’s decision banning paralegals from sitting past the bar was adjourned to Nov. 19 to set a new date for the hearing and to allow all parties to complete their paperwork, says Toronto paralegal Marian Lippa.  Read Financial Post   

The application was scheduled to be heard this week, but the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA) has stepped in to seek intervenor status which caused the adjournment, says Lippa.   Read Prior Story

Lippa says she is now considering bringing a Charter argument against the Barrister's Act.

“It’s frustrating and sad that our fellow licensees seek to fight for us not to have the ability to be heard on a first-come, first-serve basis or to sit past the bar,” she says.

Lippa launched the Certiorari application in Newmarket Superior Court to overturn JP G.M.K. Forrest’s decision on the ban and for requiring paralegals be called in accordance with the Barrister’s Act to handle criminal matters.  See Barrister’s Act

Lippa says she is bringing the application on behalf of all of Ontario’s paralegals. She says the CLA’s recent action only further creates a divide between the two professions.

"This doesn’t serve anyone any good to have two large lawyer organizations intervene on a paralegal issue," she says. "We are all licensees under the same governing body and collegiality is important. It shows the wrong perception publically that there is some form of conflict among lawyers and paralegals when there isn't. That was never the intent of my application.”

Lippa notes that since Forrest’s decision on June 10, 2010, the practice of disallowing paralegals to sit before the bar and wait to be called – often last – is spreading province-wide.

In her affidavit, Lippa says Forrest told her “court traditions required that counsel be given precedence before the court. The Justice remarked that I may not have been aware of those traditions, but that for ‘hundreds of years’ seating past the bar was reserved for counsel.”  Read Affidavit

Meanwhile, Lippa says Forrest relied on a paragraph in the Barrister’s Act that states matters shall be called in order of the lawyers’ call to the bar – that effectively leaves paralegals to go last, even if they turn up in court and sign in first at 9 a.m.

“I just want to change this archaic legislation that doesn’t account for paralegals in the system,” says Lippa.

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