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Seeking legal advice can be a daunting task for people in many cases. For many, it may be that the risk of going through a lengthy dispute through the court system is too great and choose not to pursue what they may be entitled to. For others, they may hold a belief that their case is relatively simple and is something that they can handle on their own without the expense of a lawyer.
While these perspectives may be accurate in some cases, they are typically in the minority of actual court actions. With the appropriate lawyer, most court matters can be settled out of court in a fraction of the time without the accompanying stress of managing the matter. Additionally, while some matters may on its face appear simple, complications can quickly arise. In the employment context, even the most sophisticated worker may find themselves in a matter outside of their expertise.
Sachedina v. De Rose, 2017 ONSC 6560
In Sachedina, the worker bringing an action against his employer on his own behalf was a lawyer himself. The plaintiff claimed that the firm had wrongfully dismissed him and filed a statement of claim, the document that begins a court action, that was 87 pages in length. The defendant, his employer, brought a motion to strike the plaintiff’s statement of claim, alleging that it is inappropriate given its significant length, inclusion of irrelevant information, and containing improper communications between the law firm and its clients (‘privileged’ information).
The court agreed with the defendants. The purpose of a statement of claim is to provide a concise statement of the relevant facts and to disclose the cause of action, or the legal basis on which the claim is made. Including irrelevant materials, argument, and extraneous evidence muddies the claim. On this basis, the court struck out the plaintiff’s claim but allowed him to file a fresh, and proper, statement of claim.
Despite being a sophisticated lawyer himself, it appears that in this case experienced counsel would have greatly assisted him in creating a proper statement of claim the first time around and saved him a significant amount of time and expense.
Hall v Trueblue, DBA Labour Ready, 2017 BCSC 2004
In Hall, the plaintiff was an employee who was mistakenly believed to have resigned after she took a medical leave in 2015. Having realized the mistake, the employer immediately reinstated her. The plaintiff however took the position she was terminated without notice and submitted an application to the British Columbia Employment Standards Branch where she received an Order requiring the employer to provide her with minimum standards notice. The employer complied with the Order and in 2016 had paid all monies required of them.
In 2017, the plaintiff brought an action, self-represented, alleging that she had been “wrongfully terminated due to disability and no notice provided”. The employer took the position that the plaintiff had no genuine issue for trial based on the plaintiff’s statement of claim, that the claim is bound to fail, and is an abuse of process given the circumstances.
The court agreed with the defendant. In examining the plaintiff’s statement of claim, the court found that the plaintiff attempted to draw many legal conclusions without providing any factual background for these conclusions. On this basis, the plaintiff’s statement of claim did not disclose a legal basis for the action and was struck by the court. Additionally, the plaintiff had already received compensation in the form of notice in 2016. The plaintiff is not permitted to have ‘double recovery’ when she has already received compensation for the employer’s misconduct.
Had the plaintiff sought legal advice prior to beginning her action at the BC Employment Standards Branch, she may have received additional compensation in a shorter amount of time without the expense of beginning two separate actions.
What should I do?
As seen above, it is imperative to have the relevant knowledge on the substance of a case as well as the know-how to properly navigate the judicial system. While it may appear to be relatively simple on its face, matters can get complicated based on the facts of each and every case. Experienced counsel would be able to provide much needed guidance to those outside of the system to ensure a speedy and appropriate recovery of damages. Taking the time to do some research and reaching out to professionals is the first step to protecting your entitlements in any matter.
If you have any questions related to your employment, human rights, or disability, contact Monkhouse Law today for a free consultation!
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