Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Supreme Court of Canada in 2010 - Do Fewer Cases Signal Less Justice?

If the last nine months are any indication, the Supreme Court of Canada will close the year having rendered significantly less judgments than it has in recent times. While there has been no drop in leave applications, the number of applications granted has seen a sharp decline which in large part, explains the drop in judgements.

Among some commentators, this development raises questions:
  1. Will this impact on access to justice?
  2. Will fewer rulings cause the development of law to stagnate, with the concomitant problems that go along with that?
  3. How will this reality, if at all, impact on negotiation and settlement between opposing parties and their lawyers?
Even though this data has garnered much critical commentary from both academics and practitioners alike, it is not clear as yet that there will be any degree of permanence to this change.

Even if there will be, the numbers themselves do not tell the full story.

The quality of Supreme Court judgments, and not only their quantity, must be examined. The Court's ability to steer the law in the right directions is the paramount consideration. To date, there appears to be no indication that there is reason for concern in that regard.

Of course, whether you agree or disagree with the Court's ruling in any given case may be a different question altogether.

- Robert Tanha, Toronto
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