"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nova Scotia Courts Become More Disability Friendly

Posting has been light the last little while, in part because I have been studying Nova Scotia's new Civil Procedure Rules. Yes, studying as in there will be a test.

We've already discussed one change to the new Rules, of particular relevance to the disability community, namely Rule 71, which covers guardianship applications.

Today, I came across Rule 48, which provides that
48.01 Scope of Rule 48
A party who has difficulty understanding what is being said in court, a witness who has a difficulty communicating in court, and a person with a disability that impedes them in court may be assisted in accordance with this Rule.
The Rule (which is said to be "informed" by sec. 15 of the Charter) sets out a framework for the use of interpreters, signers and assistants, including for a party with a physical or mental disability.

Although the general rule is that the party who calls the witness requiring assistance must also provide the assistance, Rule 48.05 allows a judge to determine who should bear the cost, and even allows for the possibility of a third party (such as government or an insurer) paying the expense.

This all being noteworthy because, previously, Nova Scotia's Civil Procedure Rules only contained one short paragraph on the court's power to appoint interpreters [Rule 31.22], with no mention at all of signers, other assistants or "services for a person with a disability" in court.

If'n I come across anything else of note in our new Rules, I will let you know.

Update: Along the same vein, Rule 52.07 provides that "The presiding trial judge may order assistance for a juror with a disability".

No comments: