provide invaluable guidance to self-reps
A string of cases before the Human Rights Tribunal that led to a man being deemed a
“vexatious litigant” should serve as a warning to those who choose not to seek legal
advice, says Ottawa paralegal Amri Murray.
Without a legal background, experience and
knowledge, you risk being classified as a vexatious litigant, which for the Human
Rights Tribunal essentially means you can no longer apply to that tribunal without
says Murray, principal of AJ Murray Legal Services.
In the case, the tribunal determined the man had, without
merit, filed numerous applications alleging reprisal.
For example, many people don’t realize a “request for
reconsideration” is not the same as an appeal. She is working on such a case for a
client involving the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT).
There is a misinterpretation that a request for
reconsideration is a chance to re-argue their case,” Murray tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“But one of the key opportunities this process provides is being able to bring
evidence the tribunal may not have previously heard, through no fault of the
It’s important to seek proper legal representation because
litigants may otherwise clog the legal system with meritless claims — potentially
wasting public funds, she says.
People are tempted to represent themselves
before tribunals , Murray says. “It’s a common
trend because of all the information available online.”
The prospect of not receiving high damage awards also comes
into play for applicants when they are deciding whether to retain legal advice, she
An assessment has to be made — is it worth it?”
Murray says. “At the end of the day, without hiring a professional, you stand to
lose your entire case, and possibly be labelled a vexatious litigant.
She says many people don’t realize a paralegal is an
affordable alternative for representation before tribunals, including the Human
Rights Tribunal, WSIB or Statutory Accident Benefits claims.
The advantage, Murray says, is the ability for your legal
representative to separate emotions from the case to be argued.
It can be difficult — when you’re going through
a problem, and you’re emotional and upset — for you to zone in on the arguments and
the evidence you need to point to ,” she says.
human beings. If you’re hurt because you’ve gone through something leading to a
legal process, it’s going to be tough.
Someone with a trained eye can make sure the correct
procedures are followed, Murray says.
Without help, you risk the main issue being
sidelined, and suddenly you’re caught up in procedural matters — and the whole basis
of your application may not even be considered because other factors have come into