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Pilot Projects Inventory

Year Title Jurisdiction Body Responsible Court Criteria and Methods of Evaluation Description Description of Reforms Development Links to Publications Publications Purpose Related Reforms Results Status Subjects Timeline
1999 Newfoundland and Labrador Mediation Pilot Project in Small Claims Court

Newfoundland and Labrador

Small Claims Court

Pilot project incorporating interest-based mediation into the small claims process and using articling students as mediators.

In 1999 the Small Claims Rules Committee decided to use third-year law students who were completing their articling as the mediators in the proposed mediation process. This obviated the need for any financing for the project as the mediation could be done on a volunteer basis; and as the law clerks were all members of the Law Society, there was already a regulatory body in place to maintain professional standards. At the time it was hoped that the law students would welcome a chance to be directly involved in the litigation process and that obtaining volunteers would not be a problem. This hope has come to fruition and the number of volunteers has, on some occasions, outstripped the number of cases to mediate. To date all of the law clerks in the bar admission course from 1999 to 2007 have participated in the process and all of them have reported they found the experience to be very useful.

We continued with the project this year [2008] despite a shortage of judicial resources which arose as a result of retirements and illness. We had a well attended organizational meeting with the law students in August and started to assign the mediation sessions in September. Not all of the 2008 class have had a chance to mediate as of the writing of this article but all of those who have completed a session reported that they enjoyed the experience and several have asked that they be given another mediation opportunity. The students since 1999 have been exposed to more ADR courses in law school and successive classes have grown much more comfortable in the role since the inception of the program. The settlement rate remains very high and it has been a great benefit to the many unrepresented litigants appearing in small claims court.

2008 Annual Report at 35

Results of the Mediation Process

On the litigation itself the success rate in terms of settling cases via mediation has not been high but it has been significant. On average, over the years, mediators have settled between 30 and 40 percent of the cases. Despite this, however, the majority of litigants have been positive about the process-finding that even if a full settlement of their case was not achieved, at least some of the issues were resolved and they were more prepared for trial. We had initially referred all cases to the medication process. Experience over the past six years has shown us that some cases are not amenable to mediation and will not settle. This has proved to be the case in motor vehicle accident cases. Generally speaking, before starting the court process these cases have already been through a form of mediation in that insurance adjusters have negotiated with the parties and further mediation or discussion between them at court is pointless. Most vehicle accident cases involve a determination of fault and turn on the findings of fact and parties are interested in having a trial and a determination being made by a Judge. As a result, the Small Claims Rules Committee has decided that this year, motor vehicle accident cases will no longer be mediated and instead will proceed directly to trial. All the remainder of the cases will still go through the mediation process.

2007 Annual Report at 34
 
 
 

In May of 1999 a "pilot" project was started in the Small Claims Court to incorporate interest-based mediation into the small claims process...Prior to introducing mediation the procedure was to hold a settlement conference pursuant to Section 10 of the Small Claims Act S.N.L. 1990. The settlement conference was chaired by the Judge and was essentially a first appearance to ensure that the parties were ready for trial. At the settlement conference, the Judge would explore the possibility of settlement with the litigants or make other orders such as default judgments in the event of a non-appearance but there was little opportunity for mediation.

2008 Annual Report at 35)
 
 

"The hope was that by using mediation fewer cases would go to trial and issues could be resolved at the settlement conference stage" (2008 Annual Report at 35).

The student experience compliments the bar admission course and it continues to be a very positive process for litigants, the Court, and the Bar. Interestingly our program has had an international effect. A delegation of judges from Eastern Europe was at the Court for a visit in the fall of 2007. They were extremely interested in our mediation program and we have since heard that they hoped to design a similar program to ours in their home courts utilizing their student Judges.

2008 Annual Report at 35

Ongoing pilot

  • law schools
  • mediation
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Small Claims Court
  • pilot projects
May 1999 Mediation plot project initiated
2007 Motor vehicle accident cases are no longer mediated
2008 Manitoba First Choice Dispute Resolution Pilot Project

Manitoba

Family Conciliation, Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing

A Government of Manitoba pilot project offering mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

First Choice has been developed to help parents understand the likely outcome of a traditional court-ordered assessment. The Family Court can refer parents and other family members, (hereinafter called "parent") who are having trouble reaching agreement on custody, access and private guardianship issues. First Choice can also provide follow-up assistance to the families it served, to address subsequent issues and concerns.

The First Choice pilot project involves two distinct phases:

 

1. Assessment Phase:

As soon as possible after the referral is made to Family Conciliation, both parents and possibly their lawyers, meet with a First Choice team. Each team has a male and female counsellor, experienced in evaluation and mediation. Both parents have the opportunity to describe their view of the family situation and state what they are hoping for from the court.

After the team has heard both parents and asked questions, there is a break while the team meets to discuss the case. The team then presents their opinion about what a court-ordered assessment would likely recommend, based on the parties' particular circumstances. Both parents have an opportunity to review the information with their lawyers. If a party's lawyer is not present at the assessment, the party can call their lawyer. This is arranged by the counselling team.
 

2. Mediation Phase:

If not all concerns are resolved after phase one, additional meetings can be held to mediate them. These meetings include both parents and may or may not include lawyers. The children may also be interviewed. All information brought up during the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court.

The feedback presented to the parents by the First Choice team in phase one is given, in writing, to the Family Court judge. The team also provides a notification that a parenting agreement has been reached, or the team's recommendations and options for resolving the conflict.

The pilot project's goal is to have the assessment and mediation completed within three to four sessions. The first session typically takes up to three hours, but subsequent sessions may average 60-90 minutes depending on individual circumstances with the full process completed within 30 - 35 working days from the first session.

First Choice can also provide follow-up mediation assistance to help families resolve issues that subsequently arise.

First Choice was launched in Winnipeg as a pilot project in August 2008 to offer mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

Ongoing pilot project

  • assessment
  • evaluation
  • family law
  • government
  • mediation
  • pilot projects
Date Event
2008 Manitoba First Choice Dispute Resolution Pilot Project

Manitoba

Family Conciliation, Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing

A Government of Manitoba pilot project offering mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

First Choice has been developed to help parents understand the likely outcome of a traditional court-ordered assessment. The Family Court can refer parents and other family members, (hereinafter called "parent") who are having trouble reaching agreement on custody, access and private guardianship issues. First Choice can also provide follow-up assistance to the families it served, to address subsequent issues and concerns.

The First Choice pilot project involves two distinct phases:

 

1. Assessment Phase:

As soon as possible after the referral is made to Family Conciliation, both parents and possibly their lawyers, meet with a First Choice team. Each team has a male and female counsellor, experienced in evaluation and mediation. Both parents have the opportunity to describe their view of the family situation and state what they are hoping for from the court.

After the team has heard both parents and asked questions, there is a break while the team meets to discuss the case. The team then presents their opinion about what a court-ordered assessment would likely recommend, based on the parties' particular circumstances. Both parents have an opportunity to review the information with their lawyers. If a party's lawyer is not present at the assessment, the party can call their lawyer. This is arranged by the counselling team.
 

2. Mediation Phase:

If not all concerns are resolved after phase one, additional meetings can be held to mediate them. These meetings include both parents and may or may not include lawyers. The children may also be interviewed. All information brought up during the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court.

The feedback presented to the parents by the First Choice team in phase one is given, in writing, to the Family Court judge. The team also provides a notification that a parenting agreement has been reached, or the team's recommendations and options for resolving the conflict.

The pilot project's goal is to have the assessment and mediation completed within three to four sessions. The first session typically takes up to three hours, but subsequent sessions may average 60-90 minutes depending on individual circumstances with the full process completed within 30 - 35 working days from the first session.

First Choice can also provide follow-up mediation assistance to help families resolve issues that subsequently arise.

First Choice was launched in Winnipeg as a pilot project in August 2008 to offer mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

Ongoing pilot project

  • assessment
  • evaluation
  • family law
  • government
  • mediation
  • pilot projects
Date Event
2009 Manitoba Family Law Access Centre (FLAC)

Manitoba

Law Society of Manitoba

Law Society of Manitoba pilot project that will provide reduced-cost representation to litigants who do not qualify for legal aid to assist them with their family law cases.

The LSM will act as a brokerage house in family law matters by buying legal services at a discount from private bar lawyers and then making them available to those in the middle of the socio-economic spectrum, provided they meet certain financial criteria. The LSM will also handle client billing and will guarantee payment to participating lawyers, eliminating a major administrative headache...

Before would-be clients can avail themselves of the lawyers participating in FLAC, they will be subject to a full financial assessment, including an examination of their income, debts, assets, tax returns, family size and number of dependents. If they land in the appointed range, they'll be accepted into the program. If they fall below, they'll be referred to legal aid and if they make too much money, they'll be asked to hire a lawyer on their own.

 

Lawyers Weekly

 

The Law Society of Manitoba has approved the creation of The Family Law Access Centre (FLAC), which is expected to be up and running early in 2010. The budget for the pilot project has been set at $250,000. FLAC will service the middle class - those who do not qualify for legal aid, but cannot easily afford legal services to assist them with their family law cases, such as divorce, child custody and spousal support.

To improve the accessibility of legal services in family law cases to the middle class.

Pilot Project

  • family law
  • law societies
  • litigants
  • low-income persons
  • pilot projects
  • representation