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   NEWS RELEASE   

For Immediate Release

2006AG0028-000846

June 22, 2006

Ministry of Attorney General

 

SUPREME COURT SELF-HELP CENTRE CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR

 


VANCOUVER – The Self-Help Centre is celebrating its first year of operation helping people represent themselves effectively in B.C. Supreme Court.

 

“The centre has assisted over 4,200 people to achieve better access to justice in its first year. This may relieve some of the pressure on our court system.” said Attorney General Wally Oppal. “The vast majority of people using the centre indicate their satisfaction with the information and services they received as well as the respect with which they were treated.”

 

Over the past five to ten years, more people are going to court without lawyers, either because they can’t afford one or because they choose to act for themselves.  The Self-Help Centre was launched last year at the Vancouver Law Courts to support people with the kinds of information they need to deal with family law and other civil matters.

 

“When people can’t afford a lawyer, free, accessible information and assistance can prepare them to protect themselves and exercise their rights under the law,” said Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt. “The centre is serving people well.”

 

“The Self-Help Centre is a valuable resource for the Supreme Court judiciary,” said Judge Paul Williamson. “People representing themselves in court can be confused and overwhelmed by the system. Many people find their way to the centre from the court registry. When they go to the Self-Help Centre they can be better prepared, and have greater knowledge and confidence.”

 

The centre provides information rather than legal advice, although staff can make referrals to legal resources such as pro bono services and the Legal Services Society LawLINE. The centre also operates a website which receives approximately 2,500 visitors per month and provides over 15 publications and several multimedia presentations for the public.


 

“The website is a significant tool because it allows people anywhere in British Columbia to access this information,” said Mark Benton, executive director of the Legal Services Society. “Originally, we thought that most users of the Self-Help Centre would be from Vancouver, but almost half of them come from elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. As the website has developed, we find people are accessing information in Prince George and Cranbrook.”

 

For information about the Ministry of Attorney General, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/ag

 

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 1 backgrounder(s) attached.

 

Media

contact:

Carol Carman

Director of Communications

Ministry of Attorney General

250 387-4965

250 889-1121 (cell)

 

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