I am a lawyer that has practiced in Brampton Ontario for 40 plus years.
While the judicial system is a fundamental pillar of our democracy, that is no reason for a businesslike approach not be applied to it.
The Government for shortsighted economies has starved the support staff of the courts of funding, which in turn has led to a shortage of qualified clerks able to promptly deal with court filings.
I would propose that except for those litigants that are unable to afford the appropriate fees, that every filing should be accompanied by a fee that properly identifies the true cost to the court for the processing of that document. The Province should retain the services of a cost consultant to determine the proper cost of the processing of the filings that require the court’s attention. That cost should be all inclusive, not only of the clerk required, but the hard facilities that are needed to support that individual. That is the fee that should be charged. Like any business, there must be a cost benefit analysis and the proper burden upon the Province should be alleviated by the fee paid by the individual seeking that relief.
As a result of Government cutbacks which I believe are completely unnecessary and detrimental to all concerned. There are huge backlogs on the processing of mundane applications that my office is involved in.
The processing of an uncontested divorce can literally take months to obtain. We have heard reports of stacks of mail received by the courts that have not been opened as they do not have the manpower to deal with them.
Most egregiously from the Provinces’ financial prospective, the Province is not negotiating cheques that have been submitted. As a specific example, an Application for “Probate” at one time was processed within a reasonable four to six weeks within Peel Region.
That has now climbed to generally exceeding six months. Our office has submitted the appropriate documentation and the government’s estate tax in excess of $9,000.00. Again due to the lack of sufficient staff, the Application has not even been looked at and the cheque has not be negotiated. What business would sit on income of $9,000.00 from a single file without negotiating that cheque? Indeed this has come to my specific attention as our accounting department has pointed out that the cheque is now likely stale dated. The Government is losing vast amounts of money unnecessarily.
I repeat, determine what the true cost is and charge it. At the very least this is a transaction that should be a neutral expenditure.
One must also consider the ripple effect upon the economy. People need to wait hours to file documents, which is a great financial burden to the economy. Similarly, various financial transactions such as selling a home cannot take place until the courts are able to attend to what is often a routine transaction. Again, the Government is losing its land transfer tax that would obviously be earned as a result of such a real estate transaction.
I urge the Government to take a businesslike approach to this problem. If the Province indeed is open for business, then let it at least apply this principle to its own house.