Litigating on One's Doorstep: Access to Justice and the Question of Venue


  • Anna J. Lund



Venue rules govern the location where legal proceedings are commenced and where applications and trials are heard. These rules can hamper litigants from participating in legal proceedings, such as when they require a litigant to travel a significant distance to take part in a hearing or trial. The expense and time required for such travel is prohibitive for some litigants.

In this article, the author considers the extent to which the venue rules in Alberta hamper defendants from participating in three types of proceedings: mortgage default proceedings, residential eviction proceedings, and enforcement proceedings against a judgment debtor’s real property. The venue rules applicable to these proceedings raise serious access to justice issues because the defendants are commonly self-represented and are at risk of losing their homes.

This article argues that Alberta venue rules are somewhat responsive to the plight of defendants, but they could be revised to ensure that self-represented litigants, especially those of limited means, can participate in legal proceedings regarding their homes. Changes to the substance of the rules must be matched with changes to the practices by which these rules are invoked, because these practices create additional hurdles for the defendants.