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Inventory of Reforms

New Brunswick Family Court Pilot Project


Pilot of an alternative model for Queen’s Bench Family Division to increase efficiency, promote alternatives to court, and expedite high-conflict parties.

Pilot Project

New Brunswick

Court of Queen’s Bench, Family Division

February 2008: Task Force appointed
January 2009: Report of the Task Force presented
February 2010: Pilot project details released

New Brunswick promises family court pilot project
Pilot project, committee established in response to family justice report (09/06/02)
Report of the Access to Family Justice Task Force [Guerette report]

Access to Family Justice Task Force, led by Justice Raymond Guerette of Campbellton, was appointed in February 2008 and mandated to make recommendations that would lead to:

Following a release of the Task Force’s Report, an implementation committee was formed to implement the recommendations contained in the Report.

One such recommendation is the implementation of an alternative model for the Court of Queen’s Bench, Family Division, based on the Ottawa Family Court pilot project, which is planned to be piloted in the Fall of 2009.

Description of Reforms:
As part of the pilot, “all cases entering the judicial system would first appear before a quasi-judicial official appointed under the Judicature Act. This official, referred to in the Ottawa model as a family case management master, would then determine the appropriate services and immediate remedies required. (News Release”)

Recommendations of the Task Force for the Family Court Pilot Project include:

Masters (appointed individuals with at least 10 years of practical family law experience) would play a key role in the project and be responsible for the efficient flow of cases through the judicial system.

Stage 1
The Court system will be accessed by parties through:

If they are self-represented, they will visit the Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) located in the courthouse. The Centre will be fully automated. The client will use a talking touch screen to access what they require. They will print the forms needed from a dispensing machine for a printing fee. The same forms will be available online.

Report at 47
Stage 2
The party will file an originating process and an application for triage together with a copy of their last year’s income tax return. They will be assigned a date for the triage process and will serve the opposing party with this document. The respondent will complete their response and file and serve it. The documents will be an information page. There will be no affidavit evidence at this stage.

Report at 47
Stage 3
Both parties will attend at the triage session. If they have a lawyer, the lawyer will also attend. This session will be presented with 15-20 cases at the same time and is scheduled for one-half day. The opening presenter will provide information on:

Report at 48

Stage 4
After the 30-minute presentation, clients will be asked to self-identify:

Report at 48

Stage 5
Clients who are not successful in resolution at Stage 4 will continue through the system in two streams: mediation and case conferencing.

Mediation: Will be voluntary. Clients will continue in it to completion or switch into the court stream if it fails.

Court stream: In this stream, clients will have access to justice in two distinct ways:

Stage 6
Clients who are in the court stream will have a settlement conference before their trial dates are set.

At the settlement conference stage, the parties may choose one of two routes:

Stage 7
For those files that continue to be unresolved, a trial will be held. The trial will not be in front of the judge used in the case conference or settlement conference.

Report at 49

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Aug 20, 2012