Collaboration and access to justice at the opening of the courts 2019

Posted: 09/18/2019

by Gelek Badheytsang

On Tuesday, September 10, the Law Society participated in the annual opening of the courts ceremony in the Toronto Court House. This event is held every September to celebrate the accomplishments of Ontario’s legal system, to reaffirm the roles that the various courts play in Ontario, and serves as an opportunity for judges and other speakers to share their thoughts on current affairs and issues surrounding the justice system.

The name “opening of the courts” is a symbolic one—the courts are actually active all year long.

This year’s ceremony featured Chief Justices George R. Strathy, Geoffrey B. Morawetz and Lise Maisonneuve, and Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco.

Doug Downey, the Attorney General of Ontario, was also in attendance, along with the delegate for the Minister of Justice of Canada.

Treasurer Malcolm Mercer attended the opening of the courts as the representative of the bar and the Law Society. The Treasurer opened his remarks by stressing the different connections through which the justice system functions: the judiciary, the provincial and federal governments, the legal professions, and the Law Society. “In carrying out our functions the Law Society has a duty to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario,” the Treasurer said. “Each of the pillars of the justice system has the same duty in carrying out their responsibilities.”

Access to justice and collaboration were key points throughout the Treasurer’s speech. He spoke at length about how access to justice has been pivotal in the Law Society’s work and history, and also how we help facilitate it through collaboration with the various stakeholders within the legal and the justice system.

“For most Ontarians, our complex adversarial system is premised on paid professional legal representation that most Ontarians can’t or won’t retain,” Treasurer Mercer said. “This is compellingly true in family law but is also often true in larger civil matters. Each of the pillars of the legal system must see access to justice as a fundamental, indeed existential, challenge for the administration of justice.”

The Treasurer made sure to remind the attendees about the upcoming Access to Justice Week event towards the end of his remarks.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Law Society hosted a reception for members of the judiciary, lawyers and paralegals in Convocation Hall.

(from left) Treasurer Malcolm Mercer with Chief Justices Lise Maisonneuve, George R. Strathy and Geoffrey B. Morawetz, and Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco at the reception in Convocation Hall.

(from left) Treasurer Malcolm Mercer with Chief Justices Lise Maisonneuve, George R. Strathy and Geoffrey B. Morawetz, and Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco at the reception in Convocation Hall.

Gelek Badheytsang is a communications advisor in the External Relations and Communications division of the Law Society.

Photographs for the Law Society by Tim Fraser.