Practice directives not the answer to fix court delays: Gadhia

New practice directives from the Superior Court of Justice that aim to make criminal proceedings more efficient indicate the courts continue to take the timelines set out in R. v. Jordan seriously, Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia tells The Lawyers Daily.

“There seems to be a lot more concern in the courts that somehow all these files are going to be stayed simply because they haven’t made it through the court system in time and they’re trying to do whatever they can to circumvent the problem,” she says.

Practice directives include the appearance of indictments, factums, updated pre-trial forms, directions of pre-trial conference judges, pre-trial via telephone or video conferences, bail variations and scheduling applications, reports The Lawyers Daily.

The new directives, effective May 1, were established as of way of “enhancing the timeliness, appropriate scheduling and trial readiness for criminal proceedings,” says the article.

But Gadhia, principal of R. Roots Gadhia Criminal Defence Law, says practice directives don’t always address the issue of court efficiency, and an increase in rules can actually slow the process down.

“Criminal law was never so regulated,” she says. “In the past, 20 years ago when I got into criminal law, you could file a Charter application and argue it and things moved a lot smoother. For whatever reason, the attempt to make things efficient have made things less efficient.”

Gadhia has also noticed a lack of consistency in the application of various court rules.

“Yes, the Superior Court has now enacted these rules, but if you go to the provincial level each courthouse has its own little fiefdom,” she says. “They all have their own separate little rules and there’s no consistency and I think that’s one of the biggest problems because defence lawyers are nomads. We go from courthouse to courthouse, so we have to jump through the hoops of whatever courthouse we’re going to.”

Ultimately, Gadhia says court delays can’t be fixed solely by directives.

“All this does is regulate things. All this does is say this is what you need to get x, y and z. It doesn’t change the issue of efficiency. This is literally, ‘look we’re taking Jordan seriously, and we’re putting it into our materials.’”

Back to News