Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Civil litigation is expensive, slow and inadequate in situations where people have been denied long term disability benefits, or in car accident cases where they have suffered disabling injuries.  Our firm is in a never ending struggle to find ways to increase the speed with which these cases are resolved.

Ultimately, the only thing an insurance company has to answer to is a Judge or Jury.  It takes a long time to get before them. 

Source: Greg Perry & New Glasgow News

Source: Greg Perry & New Glasgow News

In other areas of life some systems are becoming quicker and more efficient.  An extreme example is the stock market, for example.   Trades now move quickly, sometimes in nano-seconds.  The markets adjust quickly to changing circumstances but are also being exploited by high frequency traders (whether this is good or bad overall is a topic for another day).

The legal system in some ways is a bureaucratic relic of the 19th century.   We wear black gowns and the Judge sits on higher desk with a wooden mallet that they can bang on the desk.  Lawyers have to call the Judge “My Lord” or “My Lady”.  It is one environment where bullying is still tolerated more than I would like.  Lawyers and Judges use archaic latin terms for no good reason when there are English words that would do.  The Courts in Nova Scotia just started using email two or three years ago and we still cannot file documents electronically.  Go to the Globe and Mail and search “court delay” and you will see a lot of articles pop up, even one from last week, and the cartoon I’ve attached from yesterday.

The pernicious effects of delays in the courts have long been noted and condemned by jurists as well as ordinary citizens.  The much quoted Lord Denning M.R. states in Allen v. Sir Alfred McAlpine & Sons Ltd. [1968] 1 All E.R. 543 (C.A.) at p.547 :

…The delay of justice is a denial of justice. Magna Carta will have none of it. “... To no one will we deny or delay right or justice” (Magna Carta: Ch. 40). All through the years men have protested at the law’s delay and counted it as a grievous wrong, hard to bear. Shakespeare ranks it among the whips and scorns of time (Hamlet, Act 3, Sc. 1). Dickens tells how it exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope (Bleak House, c.1). To put right this wrong, we will in this court do all in our power to enforce expedition.

The Supreme Court of Canada has said that “unnecessary delay in judicial and administrative proceedings has long been an enemy of a free and fair society” and we are constantly reminding the Court and the Defendants of this.  From a cynical perspective, Defendants like insurance companies have no economic interest in speeding things up.  Our firm does, as do our clients.

We are brainstorming monthly on how to speed up our cases.  Our financial and marketing interest is to do these quicker; our interests totally align with yours. 

Are the Courts fast enough for your situation if you were denied long term disability or injured? 

No.  But it is still the best option you have.  Sometimes you might feel like you are between the devil (insurance company) and the deep blue sea (legal system).  It is a difficult and lengthy journey but we know the waters.   We have made the journey many times. 

The one thing the Defendants have that we do not is time.  There is no way out of it that is our weakness and it is where we are constantly applying our resources.  Ultimately though, we are constrained by the Rules and the Court docket.    The Defendants know that trial is usually a ways away and they only have to answer to the Judge or jury.  This is why we have to be vigilant in getting trial dates in a timely manner.

So, in summary, Defendant insurers can run but they can’t hide, but they can run for longer than we’d like. Our goal is to be right on their tail.  We are not permitted to tackle them and get a Court date until after the Discovery. So we hold the course, keep the sail out, and hold our heads high so that the insurance companies know we are ready, able, and willing to go the distance.