Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 15, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
TuaiJay, Augull 15, THE lETHMIDCE HEMilD _ 3 Eric Mfilling Do-it-yourself kits cut lega fees A 1Ai Uic fashionable law rc- form topics legal aid, right to counsel, year-round courts mjss the basic prob- lem in our legal system. It costs too much. It costs loo much because lawyers arc charging us for things we could do for ourselves. Perhaps half the work law- yers do at an hour mini- mum could he done by tho client himself as easily as he might fix a leaky faucet or painl the fence in the backyard. Hut he can't (leal with the law on his own now because law- yers and governments have kept it shrouded in mysteries to be unravelled only for a price fixed by the provincial law societies perhaps tho most powerful unions in the country. K Justice Minister Otto Lang and all the provincial attor- neys-general really want law reform in this country they can Blart by publishing 25 or 30 pamphlets showing people how they can tackle simple legal problems on their own. They can show people how to get an undefended divorce without paying tho lawyer more than S500 for work han- dled mainly by a stenographer. They can show people how to buy a house, settle straightfor- ward estates, make wills, _ in- corporate companies, w r i t o leases and light traffic tickets. Tut the pamphlets out an racks in courthouses and police sta- tions. Every other department in government grinds out infor- mation agriculture tells you how to grow belter alphalfa and, the health department tells you how to take care of your teeth. Tho revenue department has amazing confidence in our abil- ity to follow their little booklet ami fill out complicated tax forms. But there's never any infor- mation from justice. When I was a reporter at Queen's Park, officials in tho Ontario attorney-general's de- partment refused to give mo detailed information about the Landlord-Tenant Act for a se- ries of articles in The Star be- cause they said it would inter- fere with the lawyer's right to make n living. They said explaining the law Is the lawyers' business. These officials thought it was bad enough that the newspaper wanted explanations, and in- tended to publish the informa- tion at that. But heaven forbid it a common citizen called Ibe attorney general's office and wanted to find out what his rig tits were under the law wliich his politicians make, or how he could get into the court- house which his taxes built. One of the first pamphlets published should be "Landlord- Tenant Act." In simple Ian- Books in brief "The Barbary Bun" by Frank Ecclcs (Longman Can- ada Lid., 249 is a nautical novel full of adventure, piracy and, of course, hot passion. The pir- ate in this case i.s one who op- crates on the Barbary run. Al- though an English gentleman, he disguises himself as an East Indian to confuse tho pursuers. It's all very Errot Flymiish and fun. MARGARET UJCKHUHST "A Discovery of Cinema" liy Tliorold Dickinson (Ox- ford University Press. S5.7S paper, cloth, 101 A Discovery of Cinema is a look the first sevcr.ly- five years of cinct.ia. The evol- ution of cinema through the phases of silent, early sound, and modern sound, and the in- fluences leading tc those devel- opments are covered in the book. Tlic author has sper.t many working with tlie film industry in the various posi- tions of film-editor, script-edi- tor, director and producer, and is now the Professor of Film at the University of London. Ho writes from his own experi- ence and study. JUDI WALKER, guagc It could give examples of complaints and their remedies, and stop-by-slep instructions on what to do if you think you have o case. And as well, many court fights would probably be avoided if the Icnant and his landlord had a clear state- ment of tho law in front of them. "Divorce" could he next. When a husband and wife agree it is time to go their own way, they shouldn't have to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars for the privilege. They shouldn't even have to pay a week's pay for many for a do-it-yourself divorce kit that the government could print for 25 cents. Uncontestcd divorces require no special skill, no lofty legal arguments. One Ontario Su- preme Coiirt judge told a Star reporter that he had handled 25 cases in which people had used, divorce kits, was "frankly sur- prised at how well pre- pared these people are. "Some of them, in fact, are better prepan.nl than some law- the judge said. "How to liuy a House" would be another booklet. If you buy a house in Ontario most law- yers will charge you IVt per cent of the purchase price for arranging the deal, and charge the vendor of 1 per cent. Although the legal work is sim- ple and much of it is lumed over to a slenographer, the lawyers take 2 per cent of the purchase price and the new home owner ends up paying it to SGOO for an average new house. Also, is there any more work arranging a deal for 000 than one for The lawyers guarantee that the deal is secure, but if the Ontario government cleaned up laws covering real estate, peo- ple could be confident of mak- ing a sound purchase on their own. If there were still difficul- ties, the government could hire someone for a week to sit in the land titles office or the foyer at Queen's Park to help people out. There is no need for lawyers In most sales contracts. Two years ago I was ne- gotiating to buy a used sail- Iwat, I wanted to make sure that the person selling il wys the real owner before I hand- ed him the cheque. I talked to a lawyer who is a close friend, and in about two minutes ho told me exactly how to find out if the deal was sound. The next morning I made three searches in offices with- in a block of City Hall and con- firmed that no liens were reg- istered against the boat. It took an hour, and cost for the searches. Several lawyers have told me since that they would have charged at least for that job. Imagine the outrage if a me- chanic tried to charge for an hour's work something anyone could do on his own without even buying a screw- driver? "We hide all the informa- says Clayton Ruby, the Toronto lawyer who, along with his colleague Pnul Copclar.d, dared to tell people some of their rights in a SI.25 pocket- book called Law Law Law. "You can buy a book on plumbing or painting .or almost anything Ruby says, "but you can't do it (or the law cause we lawyers have th-s nice little monopoly. It's a dis- grace." "Half a lawyer's work is just a matter of following he says. "There are no special skills. Anybody can do it if he knows the rules." Hut most lawyers are not about to share their secrets, Ruby says, Iwcause they have all learned three courses at law school "making money, counting money, and keeping it from the government." E. Patrick Hartt, the Ontario Supreme Court judge who heads the federal Law Reform Commission, says the type of law that affects most people "is too easily and too complex." "If a guy wants to ?tand up and defend himself in court, I think that's fine. And the judge should help him. If the law has lo be so complicated in rela- tion to my basic freedoms that I can't deal with it on my own, then something has gone hay- wire." Like Harll, Justice Minister DATSUH 510: all the no-cost extras you really need. When you buy a Dalsun, you're gelling the whole machine. You don't need any "optional packages" or "Irim Dalsun offers 62 carefully planned extra features- lo give you more car for your dollar. You get tho front disc brakes you need for short, straight stops. The safely collapsible steering columnyouneedfor posilivepeaco The sophisticated independent rear sus- pension you need for a smoolli, ride. The electric rear window defroster. The slickest you could ask (or. (Or, at optional extra cost, Nissan's three-speed aulomatic. [Engineered specifically (or Datsun not modified from somelhing Also the flow-through ventiialion. More. A staunch, free-rewing overhead cam engine. Tmled glass. Carpels and arm resls. Lighter and ashtrays. Whilewalls. The works. And more. Dalsun gives you one more no-cost oxlra that no other car ran offer at any price: a string o! rally victories lhal is unmatched in Canada. Thai may bo even A QUO more lhan you need. Bui the price is right. Road lest the rally champ al your Datsun dealer's now. DATSUN k all you realty need There are mote than 1200 Dalsun Dealers across Canada and Ihe United Stales. DATSUN PRODUCT OF NISSAN Lang wants to streamline (he law and courts. Lang wants to take undefended divorce out of the courts entirely, and al- though it is a provincial mat- ter he favors a no-fault car in- surance scheme that would re- move all accident disputes from the courts as well. Reforms that would free the courts from disputes that real- ly don't need to be settled by a judge are essential. Divorce proceedings arid wrangles be- tween auto insurance compa- nies are Dimply blatant feather- bedding for lawyers. Tlie law affecting ordinary people in their everyday lives must he rewritten in language that we can all understand, and the courts must he equipped to help people who come in on their own. But these reforms will take years. In the meantime Ottawa and the provinces should pub- lish the pamphlets. Scattered information is available now. Huby's book is a start, although it deals main- ly with criminal law rather than the minor civil procedures that people face more frequent- ly. A British Columbia firm called International Self-Coun- sel Press Ltd. has published a handful of self-help books in- cluding a divorce guide. Useful as these books are, few people know about them and fewer still have the con- fidence to tangle with courts, lawyers and convoluted docu- ments on their own. Only the government can make this type of information available to ev- eryone, and by doing so assure people tliey need not be Intimi- dated by the law. Lang says the proposal "is in- teresting but whether the government should do it as on- posed to a private author is a matter of taste and policy." He insists that fear of the legal profession wouldn't hold him hack, but he warns there are pitfalls. "Tlie hooks or pamphlets would have lo bo marked 'dangerous, use at your own risk.' The glib generaliza- tion can be so harmful. Never- theless, I agree it's a very use- ful subject." Lang's brother-in-law, Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, is fac- ing expulsion from the profes- sion if he doesn't stop giving poor people free legal advice on n hot-line radio show in the Saskatch ewan capital. The benchers of the Saskatchewan Law Society, the Brahmins, claitn Merchant is publicly ad- vertising his law business con- trary to their code. Shortly before they cracked down, Merchant had criticized the law society on the air for .v.crctly increasing its fee schedule, lie why law- yers' fees should be going up when there Is a glut of law graduates in Canada, many of whom are having trouble find- ing jobs, "Tlie law societies have pow- ers that a trade union man with a wrench In his hand would never dream of." Mer- chant says. "They dictate tho requirements to get into the profession, fix prices without negotiating with anyone, and they can throw people out with- out leaving much recourse to the In defence of their price-fix- ing and monopoly on informa- tion, the lawyers argue that their years in law school en- title them to liigh rewards. But Ihey forget that Ihe taxpayers financed those three years. They paid the bill so the grad- uate would serve society, not to make him a big capitalist. Many high school leachers, wtlfarc workers, economists find some nurses sat in a class- room just us long. They work as hard and contribute more lo the public weal. But few of them make the average income that Ontario lawyers reported to the tax man last year. (One wonders how high that figure would he if lawyers wero nol so skilled ci.t using every tax break, and had to pay on every dollar like a working man.) Even n surgeon has lo do a Int of cutting lo earn the ?60fl that a lawyer gets for your real estate deal, and he can't have his secretary do it for him. When people complain about high legal costs, the lawyers usually propose publicly-sup- ported legal aid schemes. Hut that isn't Iho answer. Gouging (lie public collectively instead of individually is hardly pro- gress. Unlil governments are rcarly to lake on the reactionary law societies and strip their pow- ers, the people should at least he given the information they reed to deal wilh parls of the law on their owii. If enough do so, K might even have a surprising effect on those spiralling fee sched- ules. (The Toronto Star) A Waterton holiday By Fraser Hodgson T'OING through Borne snapshots tho other day I came across some taken on our old Brownie box camera from tho top of tlie Pimple above Walerton townsite. It made us remember the teti day vaca- tion we spent there in the early summer of J937. We might have gone somewhere else, but I wasn't allowed to lake my company half-ton out of the Lcthbridgc territory, and it was the only transportation we had at that time. I don't mean there was anything wrong with Waterton as a holiday spot, just that we might have gone farther away into Alberta or B.C. if we could have taken the truck. So we rented a cabin about a block south of Cameron Falls from an acquaintance, loaded up the truck with blankets, clothes, food, our two kids Jim and Shirley, my wife's nine-year-old sister Norma, and their mother Ma Graham, and took off for the mountains. The road wasn't like it is now, it was crooked and rough, and covered with a loose coat of course dusty gravel, but we got there and set up housekeeping by sup- pertime. There were two bedrooms for Ma and all the kids, and a screened porch with a bed for my wife and me. There was a path out the hack door, bordered shoulder high with thorn bushes and nettles, to a regulation outdoor toilet. It was also the home of a large family of garter snakes, so Ma or I had to make a clearing trip out there ahead of everyone else, to make sure of just a mild screaming hurry-up scamper out and back, and then only when absolutely necessary. A day or so later I borrowed a sharp shovel and widened the path, but still had to convoy eight excur- sions. We walked and drove and climbed every place possible in the short time we had in wonderful Waterton. We looked over Red Rock Canyon, then on the way back took the side road to Blue Lake. 1 believe this was the first road to Cameron Lake, and it was put in by an oil company along an old trail. Park workmen were building camp kitchens. One of them said we might make it over the ridge to Cameron Creek, so wo tried it. I figured we could back to a turn- around if we hsd lo. It was pretty scarey in places, and the kids hit! their heads so they wouldn't see themselves going over a cliff, but we made it by moving a lot of rocks and deadfalls. I know we were the only travellers over that trail for several years. Cameron Lake had quite a few visitors, and most were clustered around the little bridge over the creek where it flows from the lake. There were hundreds of big black trout moving slowly down the stream, then back again into the lake, Someone said It was spawning timej and though fishing son opened next day July 1st. in the lake, the stream remained closed. I decided right then I'd be there next morning, and catch some of those beauties coming or going from the lake, and not break any either. My wife and f got up at four next morning and left the others in bed, and tore up the road to Cameron ahead of the crowd, rented a boat and were out on the lake all by ourselves in Ihe cold foggy dawn. We had crude fishing equipment, no rods, just heavy green line with bare hooks, and beef and bacon bait. Well we didn't catch anything, not even B bile, and there wasn't a fisli in sight where there were hundreds the day before. We nearly froze solid sitting in that boat, and not another fisherman on the whole lake. We became fish-wise soon after, find- ing it was too early in the season end that we had the wrong equipment, Everything about our excursion was wrong. I guess that's the way people learn. One day we all walked downtown on the road and came back through the camp grounds, crossing a little footbridge over Cameron Creek downstream near the lake. It was a 16-inch bridge timber about twer-ty feet long, and was used as a short- cut by people living south of Cameron Falls. scooted across like a squirrel, and though Shirley was a little nervous getting started, >.he trotted across ahead of ma when I put my hand on her shirt collar. We looked back from the other side to sea the greatest sight I ever saw without my camera handy. There was my wife and her sister Norma and their mother all down on their hands and knees, crawling across that plack above rushing Cameron Creek. We hollered and laughed, but each pair of eyes just concentrated on the cen- tre of the bridge and each pair of hands grabbed white-knuckled on the edge for dear life. They never heard Ihe end of that escapade. We all got back home tired out, but II was a different kind of weariness than from hard work. It had been a wonderful change, for me al least, from the routine of battling broken down machinery every day. A holiday at Waterton might bo dif- ferent thesa days because of tho huga crowds of people, but the tilings of natura sre still the same to be enjoyed as much as ever before. On the use of words Theodort Bernstein, B Y AND LARGE. It may seem that tlie phrase by and large is overwork- ed, as Evelyn Ulrlch of Buffalo suggests, but if people were discouraged from using it they would probably turn to on Ihe whole and the first thing you know that would become even more of a cliche than It is. Both phrases mean in general or for tlie most part; they_ characterize a fundamental truth that holds in spite of minor exceptions. The truth gets through despite the exceptions just as a sailing ship moves forward despite variations in the wind. Indeed, by and largo was orig- inally a nautical term. It meant close-haul- ed (when sailing against the wind) and free (when the wind was And don't ask a landlubber what all that means. slons. The first term suggests that it makes you laugh so hard that your sides break open. Tho second suggests that you had to have such wounds repaired with su- tures. The connection sounds reasonable. But some know-it-all will probably coma around and say, nonsense, the stitches re- ferred to are those quick, sharp pains that people sometimes get. And that will spoil all the fun. Sometimes era of Uiesa words is useful. For example: "Simon and Pinter write comedies and serious playg respectively." Without respectively the reader would be justified in assuming that each wrote both kinds. On the other hand, more often one of the words is excess bag- gage, as in, "Manhattan Islar.d borders on three rivers the Hudson, the East and Ihe Harlem respectively." There the word respectively tells us nothing and should be dropped. Even when Ihe word Is used properly the tiser should re-examino what he has written to see if the sentence could r.ot be reworded to eliminate it. The rea- son Is that It compels tlie reader to go back and do a little job of matching, and anything that avoids making the reader re- trace his steps is an aid to swifter and easier comprehension. Take that first example. Wouldn't it be simpler lo write, "Simon writes comedies ami Pinter writes serious Surely that discloses their respective fields of drama clearly, doesn't It? Youth-yak. If you're excited or enlhusias- tic these days the chances are you're psyched up. And that's a state that's mighty close to being jacked up. Tho chick might say, "I wasn't sure whether he was just jacking me by which sho would mean she wasn't sure whether he was just saying something to get her ex- cited. The idea seems to be not to uso word, like excited, if you can use two. Singular error. The reason Is mysterious, but it is a fact that the word mrdia is being misused all over the place today. Example 1: "Television is becoming a media of mounting importance to religion." Example 2: "The mathematics peculiar to a mass media have tended to do away with common sense." No matter what Ihe big wigs of Washington or the little wigs of Madison Avenue may say, media is a plural noun. Television, radio and the press, taken together, are media. But tele- vision by itself is a medium, radio by Uself Is a medium and the press by itself is a medium. Those who use media as if it were a singular noun apparently think they are sounding erudite when actually they are sounding illilerate. They wouldn't dream of saying tlral the Orioles lost a game in the Yankee Stadia. Come to think of it, why don't they use mediums, a per- fectly good and normal plural, and for- get media in most contests? Word oddities. When you want to say that something was lu'lariously funny you may use the term side-splitting or alterna- tively you may say it bad you in slilches. What follows is pure, uninformed and not- too-serious guesswork, but it will be offer- ed anyway. Tho guess here is that there Is connection between tho two expres- Word oddities. The recent notation hero that the word dandelion derives from Old French words meaning lion's teeth in- spired a reader to write in about daisy. That's a picturesque one, too. The root of thai word is the Middle English dayosyr, wliich in modem English would be day's eye, a poetic reference to the sun. Cute, t-h? (New York Times.