Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (OPCA) Litigants

Jonnette Watson Hamilton has posted on ABlawg.ca a very useful summary of and commentary on Justice Rooke’s recent 156 page decision on Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (OPCA) Litigants.  This issue is relevant to practitioners of poverty law as desperate low-income individuals are vulnerable to the “gurus” who peddle these arguments, particularly where there is a psychological condition that predisposes the individual to a view of the world that is consistent with the theories propagated by OCPAs.  The ECLC occasionally sees these types of arguments raised in our evening clinics, and Justice Rooke’s decision contains a list of costs and other consequences that advising lawyers can use to hopefully dissuade individuals from becoming OPCA Litigants.  An evening clinic appointment with a volunteer lawyer is likely the only opportunity a low-income individual who has been exposed to OPCAs will have to receive accurate legal advice.

Justice Rooke also makes some practical comments in the decision on notarizing OPCA documents that may be relevant to those who provide legal services in a summary clinic setting.  Some OPCA gurus apparently place a “peculiar and mythic authority in a notary’s hands”, and seek a notarial seal on documents that would not normally call for one.  Justice Rooke states: “In my view, a lawyer has a positive duty not to engage in a step that would ‘formalize’ (though typically in a legally irrelevant manner) an OPCA document” (paragraph 645).

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About Tim Patterson

Tim Patterson is a staff lawyer at the Edmonton Community Legal Centre where he serves low income clients. His primary areas of practice are housing, employment, and other areas of civil litigation. After graduating with an B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Alberta, he was called to the Alberta Bar in 2002, and practiced at a large law firm in Edmonton before moving to the ECLC. In his current practice setting, Tim has been able to pursue his interest in improving access to justice for those living with poverty.
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