The lost promise of litigation is restitutio in integrum. Loosely translated, it is an attempt to sew shut a suture, make right a wrong, return to whole what has come undone.
Voices of victims are muted though, by cost, delay and expertise.
Change is coming. In Hryniak v. Maudlin, the Supreme Court recognized the need for a “culture shift” and endorsed a broad interpretation of Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. In so doing, the Supreme Court aimed to expedite resolution for matters amenable to summary judgment. It is a slow, but welcome, response to the call for increased access to justice and timely remedies. Still, we have yet to see sufficient treatment of Hryniak to determine whether summary judgment will bring about the shift our legal culture needs.
What we know is that Hryniak reflects the urgency of the need for reform.
Class action legislation welcome unheard voices to the conversation. Unfortunately, redress is often stalled by delays leading to certification, the tremendously lengthy appeal delays as well as the prospect of adverse costs against representative plaintiffs.
We need to get back to basics. Or, better, let’s get back to ideals-to restitution in integrum-making wrongs right.
Can harm ever be undone, or loss recovered? Perhaps not. But, it’s our job as lawyers to try.