The New-Brunswick Aboriginal Duty Counsel Project


The project was conceived as a "limited service trial" by Legal Aid New Brunswick to ascertain more clearly the nature of the problem. It was recognized that the project "may require significant adjustment and fine tuning based on circumstances encountered during the actual delivery of the service".[3]

Notwithstanding the exploratory nature of the project, some tentative program objectives were articulated. The project objectives stated in the project proposal were as follows.

  1. To explain to the client their right to obtain a lawyer and to inform them of their right to speak for themselves in court;
  2. To ensure that the client understands the charges and their legal rights and responsibilities in regard to their charges;
  3. To explain to the client the nature and meaning of any measures taken against them by the court; and,
  4. To clarify the meaning of forms or measures such as probation orders, undertakings, conditional releases, etc.[4]

These specific objectives might have been achieved by a paralegal worker or court worker. This issue was discussed between the Department of Justice and Legal Aid New Brunswick as project funding was being considered. The province of New Brunswick does not have a Native Court Worker Program, as is the case in several other provinces and territories. Because the Department of Justice has a national program to fund court worker services, developing an "experimental" court worker model for service delivery was problematic.

The province expressed a desire to combine legal information services that might have been provided by paraprofessional with a legal representation function. Thus the project assumed its current form.