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The role of lawyers in human rights complaints

Human rights complaints are not easy to file. There are time limits that you have to keep in mind, requirements for filing and more.

Hiring a lawyer to help guide your human rights complain may help you make a stronger case.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but still want to make a complaint there are services available to help you.

Legal support centres

For example, if you are a British Columbia resident, the B.C. Human Rights Clinic could possibly represent you if you qualify. However, you have to apply for representation and your complaint to the human rights tribunal must have already been accepted and you must apply for representation within 30 days from the time the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal accepted your claim. You can also apply for representation if you are defending from a claim.

Another example of a body that could help in representing you before the human rights tribunal in Ontario, is the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, which works similarly to the B.C. Human Rights Clinic. However, HRTO doesn’t provide services to respondents.

Legal support centres and clinics usually don’t charge for their services.

For the legal clinics to represent you, you usually have to demonstrate financial need. If you are rejected for representation by a legal clinic, it’s a good idea to contact a human rights or employment lawyer and at least get a consultation.

What can a lawyer do for me?

Simply put, a lawyer knows the law. He or she will know how to flesh out your case to give you a greater chance of succeeding in your complaint or defence.

There are many steps in filing a complaint and following through with it. A lawyer will:

  • Evaluate whether your complaint has merit. The last thing you want to do is waste your time filing a complaint that has little chance of succeeding;
  • Evaluate which organization is the best organization with which to file the complaint;
  • Help you file your written submission for your complaint;
  • Help you fight a complaint made against you if you have been accused of discrimination;
  • Help guide you through the legalities of the process;
  • Communicate with the other parties;
  • Once your complaint is accepted by the organization, a lawyer will argue your case in front of the tribunal;
  • Represent you at mediation, negotiations and settlement conferences;
  • Help you get the outcome you seek.

You don’t have to get a lawyer to file and follow-through with a human rights complaint. However, there are complex legalities involved when a complaint is filed with a tribunal.

A lawyer’s assistance is usually quite helpful in such matters.

Read more:

Canadian Judicial Council What Do Lawyers Do?

B.C. Human Rights Clinic