Today, we wanted to highlight another one of BC’s helpful PLEI (public legal education information) organizations: Justice Education Society (JES).
The Justice Education Society originally began as the Law Courts Education Society, founded in 1989 by the BC Ministry of Attorney General, the Judiciary, and the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. They have expanded greatly with from their original office in Vancouver with the goal of providing accessible legal education and information to build the capacity of justice systems in Canada and around the world.
With that aim in mind, they have created a number of different websites to provide legal information in these different contexts. Today’s post will focus on JES’ BC-specific websites, but if you’d like to see the full list of their projects, you can look at their project page on their website.
This website brings together answers to legal questions related to COVID-19, criminal law, family law, and representing yourself in BC Courts and tribunals. It is also home to the AskJES service, a free legal help chat line which can be accessed via phone, text or online chat. AskJES is manned by UBC law students who can provide legal information and referrals to callers, with more complex questions escalated to legally trained professionals. The service is live weekdays from 11AM to 2PM. AskJES can also be accessed on some of JES’ other websites.
Administrative law refers to the rules created by professional associations, government boards, and regulatory bodies. These organizations have formal complaint processes and hold tribunal hearings where legal decisions are made. Administrative tribunals run parallel to the courts and are less formal, expensive, and are faster. This website provides more information on administrative law in general, provides a directory of tribunals and agencies, and provides information helpful when preparing for a hearing.
This website provides age-appropriate resources for kids (age 6-12), teens, and parents dealing with a family break-up. Although it includes legal information, it is also meant to help children and parents cope with their emotions in these types of situations.
JES has also created a number of websites concerning the BC Courts. These can be very helpful resources when helping patrons who are representing themselves at court, as they provide step-by-step guidance through the whole process, complete with links to forms.
- Small Claims BC: Small Claims court (Provincial Civil court) involves disputes over debt, damages, personal property, contracts, and other agreements between $5001 and $35000. This court is designed for people to be able to represent themselves. This website provides information about going to Small Claims from start to finish, from starting a claim to after trial.
- Supreme Court BC Online Help Guide: This online help guide provides information on Civil, Family, and Criminal Supreme Court matters in BC. It also features a glossary of legal terms. The Civil guidebooks are particularly helpful as they feature important information about timelines as well as provide extra instruction to filling out BC Supreme Court forms. These guidebooks are also available on the BC Courts website.
- Court of Appeal BC Online Help Guide: The Court of Appeal is the highest court in the province. It mostly hears appeals from the Supreme Court and sits regularly in Vancouver and sometimes in Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Prince George. This website features guidebooks to be used by those representing themselves in the Court of Appeal.
Legal Support Programs:
JES also operates a few support programs for people dealing with family law matters, tenancy law issues, and seeking mediation services.
- LawCoachBC was created to support those going through separation and divorce without a lawyer and provides separation guidance on-demand by phone and email. Keep in mind this is a fee-based service, although phone consultations are free and there is a self-assessment quiz to see if the service is right for you.
- Renting it Right is a free online course for BC tenants who want to learn more about how to find rental housing, their rights and responsibilities as tenants, and the dispute resolution process. Each course features instructional videos and links to further resources.
- MediateBC allows people to connect with a mediator to help resolve their disputes. Mediation is an informal and confidential process that is less expensive, time consuming and stressful than going to court. Through this website, people are able to locate mediators for civil, family, and child protection issues.