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Keep Calm and Retain a Supreme Court of Canada Agent

Appealing a decision to the Supreme Court of Canada may seem like a steep, icy, mountain to climb. The oxygen gets thinner the higher you go, you slip and stumble while your timeline erodes and there is sometimes a feeling of plummeting downward while desperately grasping for that solid handhold. Think of a Supreme Court of Canada Agent as your lifeline providing you that solid grounding and your basecamp to help survive the climb to the highest Court in the land.

Although an Ottawa Agent is only required to be retained once an Application for Leave to Appeal has been granted (Rule 16(1)), retaining an Agent early when initially preparing an Application for Leave to Appeal will help ensure that your argument is presented to the Court in the most effective way possible. What is the issue of public importance? Sometimes that isn’t a question easily answered. An Agent can help you narrow the issues to find the basis of your argument. Retaining an Agent at the application stage is like starting your climb with an extra supply of oxygen for when it seems the air is getting a little thin. Your Agent is the Sherpa who helps to carry your heavy load.

Your Application is allowed and leave to appeal is granted – you’ve made it halfway up the mountain. Time to prepare the necessary documents for the Appeal. Although the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada are very clear as to what documents are required to be filed on an Appeal, the devil (or Abominable Snowman), is in the details. There are various requirements for documents which are peculiar to the Supreme Court of Canada, of which even a seasoned lawyer may not be aware. For example: Generally speaking court documents are bound as any book would be bound – pages facing up on the right side. In the Supreme Court of Canada pages are bound facing up on the left. When your efforts are focussed on writing a compelling argument, these oddities may evade your attention when preparing your documents.

An Agent can also assist you in preparing your argument, as well as ensuring that you are fully in compliance with the Rules. Advice and experience can reduce the chance of you falling off the mountain.

After all documents have been filed with the Court and it seems the only thing left to do is wait for the hearing, your Agent will notify the Court of who will be appearing as counsel and, if it is necessary to reserve seats for the hearing, your Agent can do this for you as well. This is part of the Sherpa job description. If this is your first time appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada, perhaps the nerves have set in! An Agent is there to brief you on every aspect of the hearing.

The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest Court in the land. It isn’t recommended you ascend that peak alone. Retain a Supreme Court of Canada Agent as your guide, to help share the burden and to help survive the climb as a team.


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