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Parties - Self-Representing - Duty of Court

Gionet v. Pingue (Ont CA, 2018)

Here the Court of Appeal sets out the basics of the court's duty to self-represented parties:
[30] The duty of a trial judge to assist self-represented litigants was canvassed most recently by this court in Dujardin v. Dujardin Estate, 2018 ONCA 597 (CanLII):
it is well-accepted that trial judges have special duties to self-represented litigants, in terms of acquainting them with courtroom procedure and the rules of evidence: Davids v. Davids (1999), 1999 CanLII 9289 (ON CA), 125 O.A.C. 375, at para. 36. However, a trial judge's duty to assist has limits. It does not entail bending the rules of evidence in an attempt to compensate for the lack of representation. The fair trial rights of opposing parties must be respected. As Brown J.A. said in Sanzone v. Schechter, 2016 ONCA 566 (CanLII), 402 D.L.R. (4th) 135, at para. 22: "A defendant is entitled to expect that a claim of liability brought against it will be decided by the same rules of evidence and substantive law whether the plaintiff is represented by counsel or self-represented."
[31] In ensuring that a self-represented litigant has a fair trial, the trial judge must treat the litigant fairly and attempt to accommodate their unfamiliarity with the trial process, in order to permit them to present their case: Davids v. Davids (1999), 1999 CanLII 9289 (ON CA), 125 O.A.C. 375, at para. 36.



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