In September 2012, Bob Kohn submitted a 5-page friend-of-the-court brief against the Department of Justice’s proposed settlement of the e-book anti-trust case. Originally, he wrote a 93-page argument. However, when he submitted a 25 page brief, the court rejected it and imposed a 5-page limit. In response, he filed a 5 page brief in the form of a cartoon.
In Ontario, the Rules of Civil Procedure set out the requirements for court documents. The Rules prescribe the font-size, page colour, and spacing for court documents. Unlike the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, there is no page limit on appellate factums in Ontario. According to Rule 42 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, intervener factums cannot exceed 10 pages and appellant and respondent factums cannot exceed 40 pages.
Perhaps Ontario should consider placing a page limit on appellate factums. This July, a 20-page limit was enacted for factums for motions. Along with a 30-page limit for a factum in the Toronto region. http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/practice/practice-directions/provincial/
No judge wants to read a factum exceeding 40 pages. An excessively long factum becomes more about the lawyer’s ego and anxiety than about assisting the judge. A page limit may inspire lawyers to be more creative and perhaps incorporate images and imagery into their arguments.
Images can be very powerful. For example, the Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I is full of meaning. The eyes and ears on her dress symbolize that Elizabeth sees and hears all from her faithful servants. The serpent on her arm above a heart shows that wisdom rules her emotions.
Even the Supreme Court of Canada employs imagery in their judgments. In the case of R v Handy, 2002 SCC 56, at paragraph 40, Binnie J effectively uses imagery to explain the dangers of similar fact evidence.
The policy of the law recognizes the difficulty of containing the effects of such information which, once dropped like poison in the juror’s ear, “swift as quicksilver it courses through the natural gates and alleys of the body”: Hamlet, Act I, Scene v, ll. 66-67.
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