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Some litigants abuse the legal system, wasting court resources and judicial time, and causing delay. This may include:

a) The bringing of one or more legal actions to determine an issue which has already been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction

b) Initiating a lawsuit, where it is obvious that an action cannot succeed, or if the action would lead to no possible good, or if no reasonable person can reasonably expect to obtain relief;

c) Initiating a lawsuit for an improper purpose, including the harassment and oppression of other parties by multifarious proceedings brought for purposes other than the assertion of legitimate rights;

d) advancing unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy, fraud and misconduct on the part of governments and judges;

e) advancing incomprehensible or nonsensical arguments and allegations;

When a judge determines that a litigant’s behaviour has abused the court’s processes, the litigant may be designated as “vexatious”, and consequently barred from accessing the court system, including initiating lawsuits without prior court approval and striking out abusive lawsuits. Courts are given the authority to designate a litigant as vexatious by using their respective rules of court, legislation, or by common law.

At the same time, the courts are seeing increasing numbers of “self represented litigants (SLR)” individuals seeing to represent themselves in court proceedings, often because they cannot afford the cost retaining a lawyer.

There is concern about possible conflation between behaviours deemed to be vexatious and behaviours arising from stress, confusion and unintended errors on the part of SRL who may not properly understand court procedure, rules of evidence, or their role in a court proceeding. Judges, court officials and courthouse staff are not permitted to give advice to litigants about how to handle their case in court.

How do the courts deal with this situation and determine who is a well intentioned, self represented litigant attempting to deal with a complex legal system, and a vexatious one?

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