Comission opposed to the undermining of the existence of the Commission on Human Rights and Youth Rights and that of the Human Rights Tribunal, the Quebec Bar filed in December, a vigorous advocacy for maintaining these two institutions. These are among the 60 agencies that the Boudreau Committee, set up by the Treasury Board, is charged with examining from a global perspective of "reengineering" the state.


The bâtonnier of Quebec, Denis Mondor 
The bâtonnier of Quebec, Denis Mondor

In its position, the Bar, under the baton of President Denis Mondor , defended the respect of the respective mandates of these two institutions.  Mondor argued the relevance of these two complementary organizations within Quebec society: "The has Commission and Tribunal fill essential roles Their mandates should be not only maintained but also strengthened to enable them to respond. adequately to the tasks entrusted to them by the legislator . "

Who will be guarantor of the Charter?

Quebeckers have adhered to supreme values, "justice, equality, compassion," and have enshrined them in Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms . "These two organizations," says the president, "are precisely the main guardians of the Charter, and they are the only ones who devote themselves specifically and entirely to its implementation."

The Quebec Bar Association has entrusted the study of the relevance of the Commission mandates and the Court in its Human Rights Committee, chaired by M e  Jean-Guy Ouellet. During its work, the Committee consulted many human rights and fundamental rights organizations. In his report, he insists on the role of "guard dog of the Charter" assumed by these two institutions.

For President Mondor, the needs that gave birth to the Commission in 1975 and to the Tribunal in 1990 are still evident. "The protection of fundamental rights, he says, and the rule of law are the pillars of the contemporary democratic state."

A unique and exclusive niche

The legislator wanted the constant interaction between the Commission and the Court to provide litigants with high-quality protection of their fundamental rights.

"In their multiple functions of education, investigation or advice to government agencies, they assume a key role that does not belong to any other institution in Quebec," says the president.

e  Mondor argues that these two institutions are distinguished from some 60 other agencies in the firing of Boudreau Committee. "This is not a mere provision of services by government agencies, such as auto insurance or fishing licenses," says the president. "The Commission and the Tribunal ensure the promotion and protection of Human Rights and Freedoms These are essential conditions for effective citizenship and public participation, and in this sense they provide a crucial function of social inclusion that guarantees a peaceful resolution of human rights. conflicts, thus ensuring stability and peace in society. "

do not have to pay court and extrajudicial costs . "

Decongestion tool

Thanks to its expertise in mediation and its power of investigation, the Commission facilitates the resolution of conflicts related to the protection of fundamental rights while avoiding the clutter of the courts. Think about his investigations of the wearing of the Islamic veil, about racism in the taxi industry, about relations between visible minorities and police forces, about violence against gay men and lesbians, about the exploitation of the elderly, to name a few, " all ," says the president, " have made a significant contribution to the development of a culture of rights by ending rights abuses. the adoption of important legislative reforms ".

In the absence of the Commission, explains the president of the Bar, citizens should always turn to the courts. Many are poor or lack adequate resources. " It would be an impossible step for them, access to justice would not be assured, and many fundamental rights would be violated or lost with impunity ."

Reduction of the invoice

For the better equipped citizens, the judicial remedy would be a waste of time and considerable money, while the Commission resolves many conflicts, satisfactorily for the parties, without needing to resort to courts. " Thanks to the Commission , the president argues, the state is ensuring both better access to justice and a reduction in the number of cases brought before the courts ."

Too many inequities remain

The establishment of the Tribunal has given rise to considerable case law regarding the application of the provisions of the Charter relating to respect for the right to equality. For the past 15 years, the debate on the protection of fundamental rights has been " refined " and, in this respect, considers the President of the Bar, " the Court allows access to justice particularly effective for citizens ".

Examples? The raw racism of the 1960s is less present, recognizes the president, " but the question of reasonable accommodations in religious matters, that of age discrimination and that of pay equity have complexities that require specific expertise if the we want to promote further study, a more serene debate, more sustainable solutions . "

Abdicate face the maze

In the absence of the Tribunal, citizens would be forced to resort to ordinary courts to have their rights recognized. " Once again ," he said, " in view of the meanders of ordinary justice, many citizens would not avail themselves of their right to a remedy, and their access to justice would be diminished." it is likely to be considerably weakened by the lack of specialized jurisdiction on the part of the court hearing the case . "

A special prism

Certainly, all courts may be called upon to address human rights issues. But in this regard, says the president of the Bar, the Human Rights Tribunal " stands out from the rest of the courts, examining human rights issues first and foremost and exercising a unique function. and indispensable, in that its sole competence is the adjudication of Charter violations, without any other normative concern . "

Unthinkable fusion

This specialization allows this Tribunal to develop " fine case law " that constantly interacts with the jurisprudence of other courts. " As a result, the Human Rights Tribunal contributes significantly to the advancement of social debate and to the advancement of broader protection of the rights and freedoms of all Quebeckers ." A key contribution and role that, according to the Bar, do not authorize a merger with the Court of Quebec or the creation of a specialized chamber within this Court.



M <sup> e </ sup> Marc Sauvé, Director of the Research and Legislation Service of the Barreau du Québec 
e  Marc Sauvé, Director of Research and Legislation of the Quebec Bar

After health and education, is justice a priority for the Charest government? " Justice and the quality of justice , answers e  Marc Sauvé, Director of Research and Legislation of the Quebec Bar , must continue to be a social choice. It was justice that we want to give well . "

Yet cases of discrimination, harassment or exploitation have not disappeared with the advent of charters, observed M e  Sauvé, also secretary of the Human Rights Committee on the issue of the position taken by the Bar filed with the Boudreau Committee.

For the latter, the Commission on Human Rights and the Rights of Youth as well as the Human Rights Tribunal " give a concrete meaning to the Quebec Charter ". Together, they offer tools to protect against discrimination and marginalization. " Citizens can not be satisfied with the fundamental rights on paper, without the ability to seek remedies to realize the " defends M e  Sauve, who wants the government to grant more resources to these institutions to strengthen their role promotion and defense of human rights in Quebec society.


The reform of civil procedure is only half-success ."

This is the record of the Chief Superior Court Chief Justice, Robert Pidgeon , two years after the new Code of Civil Procedurecame into effect .


Robert Pidgeon, Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court 
Robert Pidgeon, Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court


Shunned hearings

Management hearings, which are one of the cornerstones of the reform and which promised to reduce hearing delays and limit the complexity and cost of litigation, are underutilized.

In Pidgeon J.'s view, both judges and lawyers are responsible for it. " Let's act before it's too late, by showing litigants that we can be more effective, innovative and better served, " he said at a recent conference on management hearings. organized by the Committee on the Superior Court of the Quebec Bar.

Also spoke at the conference, the judges Jean Lemelin and Bernard Godbout of the Superior Court, and e  Daniel Dumais , while e  Michèle Thivierge , Committee Chair of the Superior Court, hosted the meeting.

Skin of sorrow

Despite the reform of the civil procedure, the litigants continue to desert the courts of justice.

In the District of Quebec, between 1998 and 2003, the number of cases in the Superior Court, Civil Division, went from 3,696 to 2,352, a decrease of 36%. Between 2002 and 2003, there were 377 fewer cases.

e  Sylvie Champagne , Committee secretary on civil procedure of the Quebec Bar , confirms that the number of civil cases is decreasing throughout the province, both the Superior Court and the Quebec Court.

Because of these statistics, one would expect a decrease in the number of days judges sit, but the numbers show that the opposite is true.

Heavy problem

Meeting in June 2004 to analyze the situation, the judges of the Appeal District of Quebec identified, among the factors making access to justice more and more difficult, the heaviness of the rules of practice and procedure.

Pidgeon J. observes that lawyers are more likely to use experts. " More litigants was that make quérulence 1 ," he said. Some members of the Bar reported to him that the reform, far from having simplified the judicial process, complicated it, notably by the introduction of new forms.

Resistance to change

Two procedures put in place during the reform, settlement conferences and special case management – which allows the assignment of a particular judge to the management of a complex case -, prove popular among lawyers and helped simplify the judicial process.

However, ordinary management hearings, oral argument and the application of the rule of proportionality are met with resistance by members of the Bar and judges alike.

This is probably because these measures are foreign to traditional judicial mores, Pidgeon J. notes. " The change of culture did not happen ," he says.

Unknown potential

The Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec, Guy Gagnon , admits, in an interview with the Journal du Barreau , that the potential for maximum use of case management is poorly understood. As a result of the lack of understanding of this potential, periods reserved for ordinary management hearings in the Quebec District have been reduced because of low attendance.


Guy Gagnon, Chief Justice of the Court of Québec 
Guy Gagnon, Chief Justice of the Court of Québec

The lawyers present themselves in management mainly to file the deadlines established between them on the course of the proceeding, and do not think to use them to advance their files more quickly.

The oral c. writing

Oral contestation still causes much discomfort among lawyers. The plaintiffs are afraid of being taken by surprise, and the defendants fear that their arguments will have less impact without the support of the writing. Chief Justice Guy Gagnon says he understands these reservations. " Quebec's procedural tradition is based on the written word, but there are uncomplicated cases where lawyers should agree to make an oral defense ," he says.

It should be noted that some judges, in the absence of the consent of all parties, are reluctant to order the oral challenge, although the Code of Civil Procedure gives them the power to do so.

Proportionality and balance

The effectiveness of justice can be greatly improved by taking advantage of management hearings to enforce the proportionality rule. This rule of Article 4.2 C. pc provides that " in any proceeding, the parties must ensure that the selected pleadings are, having regard to the costs and time required, proportionate to the nature and purpose of the and the complexity of the dispute, the judge must do the same with respect to the pleadings that he authorizes or orders ".

This rule allows the judge to intervene to restore the balance and avoid abuses when there is a great disparity of resources between the two parties, as in the case of a litigant pursuing a multinational.

The magistrate could, for example, based on this provision, limit the number of expertises or the duration of an interrogation.

The court may even use it to limit costs or exaggerated expert fees, notes Judge Pidgeon.

Never be the third lawyer on the file

The Pareto principle states that 80 per cent of results are derived from 20 per cent of input. This 80/20 rule can describe difficult clients: 80 per cent of your grief will come from 20 per cent of your clients.

Knowing how to handle that 20 per cent is imperative to a healthy practice.

For sole practitioners and small firms, difficult clients can be overwhelming. Unlike at larger firms, you may not be able to easily transfer the file to another lawyer. However, ignoring the fact that a client is difficult can compromise your representation of them. The following are 10 suggestions for managing difficult clients.

Conduct a telephone screen: A telephone intake before the client enters your office will help screen problem clients. For example, a person who calls you just before their limitation period expires suggests they will require a significant amount of educating. It could also signal a lack of investment in their case, as they did not care enough to protect their rights early on.

Never be the third lawyer on the file: As part of your intake process, find out if the client is switching lawyers. If so, obtain authorization to speak with the previous lawyer to find out why the relationship ended. A lawyer forced to terminate the relationship due to non-payment of the retainer, or breaching other terms of the engagement, should be red flags for you. As a general rule of thumb, while you may be the second lawyer on the file, never be the third.

What is the client’s motivation?: During the intake, in addition to canvassing what the client wants, find out why they want it. If they want revenge or justice without regard to costs, alarm bells should sound. If they are angry and argumentative, want to sue their past lawyer or have unreasonable expectations at the outset, be prepared to spend considerable efforts educating the client if you take them on.

Review the file before taking it on: If you are referred a file by another lawyer, ask to review the file and meet the client before taking the matter on. This will allow you to properly assess the file and determine whether you can work with the client.

Do not act for family and friends: What may seem like a small matter or a simple favour for family or friends will often be more complicated than anticipated. Your relationship with that person may also cloud judgment or lead you to relax your policies for them.

Understand why they are difficult: A client may be difficult for myriad reasons. Perhaps they suffer from a mental illness or a serious medical condition. They may be overwhelmed, resentful or scared about the legal process, and are transferring their negative emotions on to you. Once you have an idea of what makes a client difficult, you can create a plan to deal with it.

Educate, educate, educate: The key to dealing with most difficult clients is educating them. Take the time to talk to them and explain the legal process, even if you have to do it repeatedly. Report regularly as this will help the client understand their file and alleviate concerns that nothing is being done. Educating a client will build a positive relationship that lasts throughout the file.

Establish ground rules: Ground rules will set expectations. Have policies for missed appointments without reasonable excuse, non-payment of retainer and treatment of staff. A breach of these policies can be cause for terminating the relationship. Also, establish phone and email expectations. Limit after-hours correspondence to mitigate the expectation that you are at the client’s disposal.

Explain hourly rates for all staff: Clients must understand that your staff’s time is valuable. When reviewing your hourly rates, include the rates for your staff. This will dispel the illusion that only the lawyer’s time counts and minimize the never-ending calls to support staff.

Stick to your rules: Policies with the best of intentions are meaningless unless we follow them. This can be painful, but it must be done to protect yourself, gain your client’s respect and create a harmonious office.

Everyone has difficult clients. The best way to avoid such clients is to not be retained by one. If you do have one, take the time to educate them and establish rules and expectations. Knowing how to handle a difficult client properly can be the difference between an unhappy client that degrades your reputation and a happy client that sends you future business.

Ten ways to handle difficult customers!

Ten ways to handle difficult customers!The Pareto Principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of entries. This 80/20 rule can also apply to your difficult customers: 80% of your torment will come from 20% of your customers.

Knowing how to manage these 20% of your clients is imperative for a healthy practice. This is what Kevin Cheung , a partner at Fleck Law, says in an article in Canadian Lawyer.

Cheung is a liaison officer for small and medium-sized law firms at the Ontario Bar Association, and is familiar with their issues. These difficult customers can be heavy. Because unlike the big business case, he says, you are not able to easily transfer the case to another lawyer. "In any way, ignoring the fact that the client is difficult can compromise the quality of your work," he writes.

Here are the 10 suggestions proposed by Kevin Cheung for the management of your difficult customers

Talk to him on the phone: A first contact by phone will help you better understand the profile of the client. For example, someone calling you just before the expiry of the limitation period suggests that they need a lot of information right now. This may also signal a lack of investment from her because she did not care enough about her rights well in advance.

Review the file carefully before deciding to take charge of it : If a case has been sent to you by a colleague, ask to review the file and speak with the client before taking charge. This will allow you to properly evaluate the file and determine if you are able to work with the client.

Never be the third lawyer on the record : Before saying yes to a warrant, try to find out if the client is changing from lawyer to lawyer. If this is the case, get permission to contact the previous lawyer on the case to find out why their collaboration has ended. The fact that a lawyer has been forced to terminate a benefit due to non-payment, or a breach of another term of office, should be a red card for you. As a general rule, you can, at best, be the second lawyer on a case, but never be the third, advises Kevin Cheung.

What is the motivation of the customer?: During the first contact, in addition to analyzing the client's request, try to find out the reason that motivates him to make the move. If it is a motive for revenge or justice that ignores the consequences, you should sound the alarm. If the client is angry and argumentative, if he wants to continue his previous lawyer or if he has expectations that exceed the reality, prepare, from the outset, to spend considerable energy to raise awareness about the results that may be reasonably achieved.

Do not handle business for a family member and friends: According to Kevin Cheung, what may seem like a small business or a simple favor for a family member or a friend, will often be more complicated than expected. Your relationship with this person may also distort your judgment or cause you to derogate on certain points related to your work procedure.

Understand why this client is difficult : A client can be difficult for a multitude of reasons. He may be suffering from insanity or serious illness. Overworked, angry or frightened by the heavy sentence that may be caused by legal proceedings, your client may transfer you negative waves. Once you have an idea of ​​what makes a customer difficult, you can better organize yourself to manage it.

Educate, educate, educate: The key to dealing with most difficult customers is to educate them. Take the time to talk to them and explain the court process, even if you have to do it several times. Remember to keep them regularly informed of the progress of their procedure, as this will help them better understand their case and mitigate their concerns. Educating a client helps build a positive relationship as the process progresses.

Establish ground rules: Put some basic rules in place so that the customer knows what to expect. Thus, no missed appointments without reasonable excuse, non-payment of fees, or inappropriate behavior with different members of your teams. A violation of these rules may be grounds for terminating the collaboration. In addition, consider establishing a telephone and email exchange process.

Explain hourly rates for all of your staff : Customers need to understand that your staff time has a price. When presenting your hourly rates, be sure to include those of your staff. This will dispel the illusion that only the lawyer's time is running out, and minimize endless phone calls to your various associates.

Stick to the established rules : The basic rules put in place, as rich in good intentions as they can be, will only make sense if you hold on to them. This is a little painful, but it helps to preserve your well-being, earn the respect of your client and create a harmonious working atmosphere within your practice.

Everyone has difficult customers, concludes Kevin Cheung. The best way to avoid this type of customers is not to take care of them from the start. But if you're ever forced to collaborate with this type of profile, take the time to set rules and expectations. Knowing how to handle a difficult customer properly can mean the difference between an unhappy customer who degrades your brand, and a satisfied customer who recommends you for future records.