Legal Aid, LSUC and the need for education around language rights

Posted on: September 27th, 2016 by Suzanne Deliscar Add A Comment

Legal Aid Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada — through continuing education for lawyers — should reinforce the right to an interpreter in court for accused persons whose first language isn’t English, says Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar.

“Even for those lawyers who cannot attend, the promotion of this type of professional development will create a level of awareness about the issue — it will let lawyers know about what their obligations are under the different pieces of legislation, specifically when it comes to access to justice in different languages,” she tells

Deliscar comments on the issue following the Brampton case, R. v. Khandal, 2016 ONCJ 446 (CanLII), in which a judge dismissed an impaired driving charge against a man who wasn’t given access to a Punjabi interpreter when he spoke to a lawyer following his arrest, violating his right to counsel.

Police did try to accommodate the man’s language needs, but their conduct “fell below the standard of care reasonably expected of them in the circumstances,” Ontario Court Justice Paul Monahan wrote in his decision.

Bikkar Khandal was arrested on Oct. 8, 2015 at a RIDE spot-check in Mississauga. Once he was arrested and taken to the police station, officers called duty counsel, who provide free legal advice over the phone to people under arrest. The police officer requested a Punjabi interpreter, says the judge’s ruling.

The duty counsel lawyer, however, conducted the legal consultation with Khandal in English.

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