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September 15, 2008

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McKELLAR STRUCTURED SETTLEMENTS INC. 1-800-265-8381 ckellar_LT_Jan14_08.indd 1 $3.55 • Vol. 19, No. 281/8/08 3:03:02 PM Covering Ontario's Legal Scene Opening of the Courts ceremony also served as a forum for two chief justices to sound off on the province's struggling family court system. Chief Justice of Ontario Warren Winkler Chiefs seek unified Family Court O Bentley awaits federal government action BY ROBERT TODD Law Times ntario's judiciary last week celebrated the start of a new year with pomp and circumstance — but the new-look Women In Law said governments need to funnel more money to the system, as judges can only do so much on their own. "Family law matters which are now un- derstood to be complex, social problems that require multidisciplinary and co-ordinated responses, must attract the resources they re- quire," said Winkler in calling for the creation of a "properly serviced, unified family court system that meets the needs of Ontarians." Winkler said it's up to governments, judges, lawyers, and service providers to work together on the initiative. attorney general of Ontario have a chance to begin their discussions after today's ceremony," said Winkler. Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Jus- tice Annemarie Bonkalo noted her court's judges deal with the bulk of family law cas- es — 27,000 child-protection, custody and access, and support cases. "Handling such a high volume has not been easy," said Bonkalo. "Some can be dealt with rela- tively quickly with the assistance of counsel, but many require our judges and justices of the peace to make careful assessments based only on the evidence before them. Some take an inordinate amount of time to bring to a conclusion because "I hope that the minister of justice and the Photo: Robert Todd Ontario's top judges, from left to right Chief Justices Heather Smith, Warren Winkler, and Annemarie Bonkalo, preside over the Opening of the Courts ceremony. of their complexity and the amount of evidence." With that in mind, Bonkalo said, "I worry that our court might not always be able to meet that challenge." Bonkalo notes in an interview with Law Times that while some unified family courts exist in the province, they're unevenly distributed."In the east, for example, there are only three Ontario Court of Justice family courts," she says. "It should be unified throughout the province. It would mean that all of the resources, all the counsel, all the public would go to one set of courts." A high proportion of unrepresented litigants in family and criminal cases forces judges and justices of the peace to drain court time so that litigants know the basics of con- ducting a case, said Bonkalo at the ceremony. "I support the chief's call for review and reform and the implementation of a unified Family Court across the province, a call also made by my prede- cessor chief justice [Brian] Lennox," she said. See Family, page 2 he province must remove barriers to pain and suf- fering claims to protect access to justice for auto crash victims, says the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. During a roundtable discussion held Aug. 20, at Queen's Park, association president Patrick Brown outlined recommendations to insurance, medical, and government stakeholders. In- cluded in the recommendations are removing threshold and defin- ing regulations on personal injury claims, reducing deductibles on injury claims to 2003 levels, and eliminating deductibles on fatality claims altogether. Scrap pain and suffering barriers, says OTLA T BY KELLY HARRIS For Law Times ise for a Strong Economy Act, was introduced by former finance minister Janet Ecker in December 2002. The legislation was dubbed the Magna Budget because it was introduced at one of the auto- part giant's factories. The regula- Bill 198, the Keeping the Prom- an overburdened court system and administrative costs," says Brown. "When they raised [the deduct- ible] up to $30,000 and they put in the defining regulations . . . they didn't just eliminate the mi- nor claims, they eliminated many significant injury [claims]." Our interests are certainly multiple. To have affordable, effective insurance and to protect those who are injured, are important parts of public policy areas. tions doubling the deductible on personal injury claims were an- nounced July 29, 2003 and came into effect later that year. "Originally, the threshold was put into place to reduce claims, get the whiplash out of the system, get rid of soft tissue issues, prevent fore the McGuinty government was first elected into office, the province changed requirements for personal injury claims to include the thresh- old and defining regulations. In ad- dition they increased the deductible from $15,000 to $30,000 on claims On Oct. 1, 2003, one day be- 7 Harper's An Onion 9 Focus On Human Rights/ Constitutional Law Quote of the week "Nobody has a career path much like anybody else's. I wouldn't suggest someone try to pattern their career. It's a collection of things that happen to you over the years that cause you to be where you are at a particular point in time." Call 416.223.5991 Investigative & Forensic Accounting Specialists Proven Expertise ntitled-6 1 September 15, 2008 1/8/08 3:28:10 PM Inside This Issue 3 A.NEUMAN ASSOCIATES INC. — Carol Hansell, laywer, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP See Carol, page 3 up to $100,000. The deductible for claims under the Family Law Act was increased from $7,500 to $15,000 on claims up to $50,0000. "Let's say you have a $50,000 claim, which could be a pretty sig- nificant orthopedic injury, most lawyers don't want to touch it and are not prepared to take on those cases," says Brown. He outlined a scenario cult verbal threshold and then be subject to the deductible. In the case of a $50,000 claim the de- ductible would be $30,000, leav- ing the claimant with $20,000 before legal fees. Brown says many lawyers will not bother with the where a senior citizen speaks to a lawyer about a claim. The claim would first have to meet a diffi- See 'Death, page 5 Advocate_LT_Sep15_08.indd 1 9/11/08 9:01:22 AM

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