Saskatchewan Small Claims Court - Case Management Conference
Overview of Saskatchewan Small Claims Court pre-trial case management process.
Small Claims Court
Saskatchewan Minister of Justice Advisory Committee
|2005||Minister of Justice Advisory Committee Report|
|January 2006||Amendments came into effect|
A 2005 report by the Minister of Justice's Advisory Committee reviewed the small claims process. The Committee was composed of members from the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of Saskatchewan members. Focus groups were held with court staff, lawyers, and the public. Consultations were also held with the judiciary. The amendments to the Small Claims Act recommended in the report came into effect in 2006.
Prior to the amendments, case management conferences were already being utilized in the larger courts. They were highly successful, resulting in 50% of cases being settled out of court.
The Advisory Committee considered the alternative. The overwhelming response from those consulted was that the litigants wanted to hear the opinion of a Judge about the merits of the case, rather than of a non-judicial actor. Matters would be less likely to settle if Judges did not conduct the case management conferences.
The case management conference has two purposes:
- settle the litigation, or
- if no settlement can be reached, narrow the issues for trial and resolve procedural matters, to ensure a more efficient proceeding. This includes familiarizing self-represented litigants with the process which will be followed at trial.
Saskatchewan's Small Claims Court uses a two-step process. "The first step is a case management conference (which the judge can waive) to settle the litigation or narrow the issues and resolve procedural matters. It includes familiarizing self-represented litigants with the process that will be followed at trial. The second step is trial, to which the first step has paved an efficient way." (Into the Future at 31-32)
Information packages for all stages of the process have been prepared for public use, as well as a flowchart of the overall process. This material has been made available at all court offices, placed on the Courts' website, and widely distributed to local agencies. Training and education initiatives included the preparation of a Bench Book for Judges presiding over small claims matters, a one day session for judges on case management conferences, and training sessions for court staff from each court office.
- settle any issues being disputed;
- decide any issues that do not require evidence;
- make any appropriate order agreed to by the parties;
- set a trial date if a trial is necessary;
- discuss any evidence that will be required and the procedure that will be followed if a trial is necessary;
- order the defendant to prepare a statement of defence;
- order a party to produce any information at the case management conference or anything as evidence at trial;
- order disclosure; and
- make any order for the just, timely and inexpensive resolution of the action.
If settlement attempts have not resolved the dispute, a trial will be held. The judge may give any necessary directions to the persons involved to ensure the trial proceeds quickly and efficiently.