Case Selection FAQ
West Coast LEAF intervenes in cases that will contribute to gender equality in British Columbia and Canada.
Our current and past cases can be found on our cases page.
Below we have provided some answers to frequently asked questions about our litigation work in the courts.
West Coast LEAF’s work is focused on litigation that is likely to make big changes to laws, policies, and systems. While many individual cases do have wider impact, we do not offer direct legal services to the public. We are not a legal clinic and our lawyers cannot give you legal advice or represent you in your case. There are two ways we get involved in cases: interventions and test case litigation.
When we intervene in a case, we have received permission from the court to provide our perspective on how the issues in the case impact gender equality in systemic and substantive ways. We are not there to represent the plaintiff or the defendant. Instead, we are there as a “friend of the court” that assists the court as it decides the legal issues in the case.
There are many cases that are important for equality. As a small non-profit with limited capacity, we try to intervene in cases where our particular knowledge will be most relevant and helpful. West Coast LEAF prioritizes cases that:
- Align with our vision of an equal and just society for all women and people who experience gender-based discrimination;
- Touch upon at least one of our six areas of work; and/or
- Relate to our strategic plan.
We look for cases that involve breaking new ground and/or establishing a legal precedent that affects the collective interests of women and people who experience gender-based discrimination. We also consider the timeline and current status of the case. Sometimes, it may be to too early in the case for us to get involved; other times, the case may have progressed beyond where we would apply to intervene.
We use the terms “test case” and “strategic litigation” to refer to cases that have been brought forward as part of a strategy for social change. We work on test cases by representing or otherwise assisting the plaintiff in the case (unlike in interventions, where we act as a “friend of the court”). Test cases typically take a long time to develop, involve many other people and organizations, and require understanding there may be intended and unintended consequences of going to court.
We are not able to intervene in cases where you do not have a lawyer, as West Coast LEAF is a small organization. We recognize this is a barrier to access to justice for many people. If you do have a lawyer or legal team working on your case, and if you and your legal team want to address systemic issues through your case, we can discuss the possibility of working together. Please ask your lawyer to contact us at info[at]westcoastleaf[.]org Please keep in mind that West Coast LEAF can only intervene in just a few cases that are best suited to us.
If you are interested in having us act as an intervenor in a case, we encourage you to reach out to us directly with your potential legal strategy. Please contact us at info[at]westcoastleaf[.]org We will look at several factors to determine whether your case is a strong fit for us. We prioritize cases that align with our vision and areas of work.
At this stage we are not seeking individuals to become involved in the case. Single Mothers’ Alliance v BC is a constitutional challenge against the Province of BC and the Legal Aid BC for failing to provide adequate family law legal aid to women leaving abusive relationships. We recognize this is a systemic issue impacting many women and people who experience gender-based discrimination. Updates about the case are provided on our legal aid test case page.
We welcome input from our community about issues affecting their lives, however we are often limited in our ability to take action. We sometimes share opportunities for public consultation or engagement through our newsletter or social media. You can subscribe to our email list below to learn about events, projects and more!