Litigating Family Law Economically The Case Study of My SupportCalculator, and Lessons for the Civil Litigation Bar “Litigating Economically,” Ontario Bar Association (OBA), April 30, 2012 Omar Ha-Redeye, JD General Manager, My Support Calculator
Family Law in Crisis• Chief Justice Warren Winkler: – The current family law system is too slow, too complex, too adversarial and, above all, too costly. There is no other area of the justice system where we have the opportunity to bring about reforms that will have a greater positive impact on Ontarians. Despite improvements in family law services that have been made in recent years, much more must be done if substantial improvements are to be made. In my opinion, family law reform must be our highest priority.
Rules of Professional Conduct• 4.06 (1) A lawyer shall encourage public respect for and try to improve the administration of justice.
Why the Crisis?• Nicholas Bala and Rachel Birnbaum (2011) – inability to afford a lawyer – unrepresented parties increases the costs for the represented party and for justice system • more difficult to settle • delays due to lack of familiarity • may cost more than not hiring a lawyer
Statement of Principles on Self- represented Litigants and Accused Persons• 4. Self-represented persons, like all other litigants, are subject to the provisions whereby courts maintain control of their proceedings and procedures. In the same manner as with other litigants, self-represented persons may be treated as vexatious or abusive litigants where the administration of justice requires it. The ability of judges to promote access may be affected by the actions of self-represented litigants themselves.
The Lawyer as an Educator• 7% of lawyers report that self-represented litigants believe they can do a better job than a lawyer (Birnbaum & Bala)• The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) are not legislation, but are incredibly complex – Essentially impossible for self-reps to accurately calculate support
My Support Calculator• launched in 2011• only site in Canada providing the public free and accurate child support and spousal support calculations – calculation is very simplified – intended to provide a starting point for litigants – rough estimate of support as a starting point for calculations
Unbundled Services• 85% lawyers already provide limited scope retainers (Birnbaum & Bala)• Website lists directory of practitioners, some of whom offer unbundled services• Public can more readily identify areas where they require assistance – Special expenses, dividends, self-employed, etc.• New Rules of Professional Conduct