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Trials Inventory

Year Title Jurisdiction Body Responsible Court Criteria and Methods of Evaluation Description Description of Reforms Development Links to Publications Publications Related Reforms Results Status Subjects Timeline
1983 BC Summary Trial (Rule 18A)

British Columbia

British Columbia Supreme Court

BC Supreme Court summary trial rule authorizing a judge in chambers to give judgment based on affidavits or similar evidence.

Rule 18A

A party brings their application by way of a Notice of Motion in the action. The application must be heard at least 45 days before the date set for trial if one has been set.

Although often referred to as "trial by affidavit", Rule 18A generally permits parties to adduce a variety of forms of evidence. In addition to affidavits, parties may rely on answers to interrogatories, discovery evidence, formal admissions, and statements of expert opinion provided that the statement appears in the proper form or, failing that, is ordered admissible by the court. The usual rules regarding the use of discovery transcripts and interrogatories apply in the summary trial context...

In some cases, the court might expand the scope of permissible evidence to include cross-examination on affidavits, either before the court or before another person. In other cases, a party may be precluded from obtaining one or more of the above forms of evidence because it left it too late in the day to do so. In some cases the court will order that the Rule 18A application proceed absent, for example, the examination for discovery of one party because the requesting party had ample time to conduct the discovery in advance of the hearing but opted not to do so.

Summary Trial at 3
 
Rule 18A has been interpreted by the courts to allow for summary trials and judgments in a broad range of circumstances. A judge should only decline to hear an application for a summary trial where he or she is unable to make critical findings of fact necessary for a determination of the issues and where cross-examination of the affidavits or other means of clarifying the evidence would not remedy this problem, or where it would be unjust to determine the issues raised in the application.

The chambers judge should consider the amount involved, the complexity of the matter, and any prejudice due to delay if the matter is set down for trial under the normal procedure, including the costs consequences of so ruling.

Discussion Paper at 4

Proposed Rule 9-8 (Summary Trial)

The proposed new Rules of Civil Procedure incorporate Rule 18A as Rule 9-8. A new major proposed change to the Rule is that parties may only apply to the court for judgment under this rule if they are authorized to do so by a case plan order.
 

Comparison to a conventional trial

Many of the differences between a summary trial and a full trial are also the advantages of a summary trial. Parties proceeding under Rule 18A can expect to secure an earlier hearing date than they would for a conventional trial simply because of shorter length of time required. The time, expense, and resources required will generally be far less in the summary process because of the shorter hearing, the absence of live witnesses, and often, the truncated discovery process.

Although bringing an 18A application does not operate to stay all pre-trial discovery procedures such as document production and examinations for discovery, the court retains discretion to order the postponement of an examination for discovery pending the hearing of an 18A application that has the potential to dispose of the claim or some part of it. However, the court will not do so where the discovery evidence might contradict the documentary evidence on which the moving party relies. Furthermore, because a summary trial application might only dispose of some of the issues between the parties, it should not be used to prevent the other party from presenting their larger case.

Other differences of note are that there are no juries in summary trials, and because there will generally be no viva voce evidence, parties may not subpoena witnesses. In terms of costs awards, the general rule is that where the applicant is unsuccessful and the matter is referred to the trial list, the costs of the application will be costs in the cause. However, where the summary trial court finds that there are exceptional circumstances, such as an application that could be described as frivolous, the court may award costs of the application against the unsuccessful applicant.

In B.C., summary trials proceed in chambers and counsel appear un-robed.

Summary Trial at 5-6

Rule 18A was introduced in British Columbia in 1983 in response to a concern that Rule 18, governing applications for summary judgment, was often found to be ineffective in that motions for judgment could easily be defeated. Introduction of Rule 18A was meant "to expedite early resolution of cases by authorizing a judge in chambers to give judgment in any case where he can decide disputed questions of fact on affidavits or by any of the other proceedings authorized by the rule unless it would be unjust to decide the issues in such a way" (Summary Disposition at 5).

In evaluating the rule, the British Columbia courts stated that the elusive and unattainable goal of perfect justice in every case could not always be assured even after a conventional trial and the safeguards furnished by the Rule and the common sense of the chambers judge were sufficient for the attainment of justice in any case likely to be found suitable for this procedure. Chambers judges were cautioned to be careful, but were encouraged not to be timid in using the Rule for the purpose for which it was intended.

Summary Disposition at 6
 
Of the proceedings commenced in the B.C. Supreme Court, approximately 1.4% are decided by full trial and approximately 1.2% are decided by summary trial. This has allowed British Columbia to not increase its number of trial judges in approximately 20 years. Rule 18A has proven to be an effective means of increasing access to justice, while reducing costs to litigants and to the judicial system.

Summary Trial at 2

Permanent Implementation

  • affidavit evidence
  • chambers hearings
  • rules of court
  • summary trials
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
1983 Rule 18A introduced
July 2007 Draft Rules released
January 2010 Projected implementation of new rules
1993 BC Small Claims Court Settlement Conference (Rule 7)

British Columbia

Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court Rule of Court introducing mandatory settlement/trial conferences.

Settlement conferences are mandatory in all non-pilot project registries, for all cases except motor vehicle accident cases in which only liability for property damage is disputed (Rule 7(2))...

Typically, a settlement/trial conference is scheduled for half an hour before a judge in a conference room at the courthouse. The judge at the settlement/trial conference will not be the judge at trial, if a trial is necessary.

At the settlement/trial conference, the parties will sit at a table with a judge. The judge will say a few words and ask each party to give a brief summary of their case. The judge may then lead both the claimant and defendant into a discussion on what, if anything, the parties can agree on. If the parties agree on the final result, the judge will make the order. However, the parties may agree on some issues and leave issues in dispute to be resolved at trial. The judge will assess how much time is required for trial (Small Claims at 28-29).

  • All parties, with or without legal representation, must attend the settlement conference (r. 7(4)).
  • Each party must bring all relevant documents and reports to a settlement conference (r. 7(5)), whether the party intends to use them at trial or not.
  • The judge has wide powers to: mediate any disputed issues; decide on any issues that do not require evidence; make a payment order or other appropriate order in the terms agreed to by the parties; set a trial date, if necessary; discuss evidence requirements and trial procedures if a trial is necessary; order production of documents; dismiss a claim, counterclaim, reply, or third party notice if it is determined to be without reasonable grounds, or it discloses no triable issue, or it is frivolous or an abuse of the court's process (r. 7(14)).

Permanent implementation

  • British Columbia Small Claims Court
  • case conferences
  • mandatory programs
  • reform
  • rules of court
  • settlement conferences
1993 Rule 7 came into effect
1993 Tax Court Status Hearings (Rule 125)

Federal

Tax Court of Canada Rules Committee

Tax Court of Canada

The hearing is conducted to set dates for the completion of the remaining steps in the appeal and discuss any issues pertaining to the appeal.

If an appeal has not been set down for hearing or terminated within four months after the filing of the reply, the Registry send a letter to the parties requiring them to establish a schedule. Parties are expected to establish and submit this schedule within the time frame indicated in the letter. If the established schedule is acceptable to the Court, it will issue an Order confirming those dates and no status hearing will be required. If no schedule is established within the required time frame, a status hearing will be ordered.

Status hearings are conducted via telephone conference call unless directed otherwise by the Court. At the status hearing, parties must be prepared to discuss any matter pertaining to the appeal including steps remaining to be completed prior to trial.

The judge presiding over the status hearing will set dates for the completion of the remaining steps in the appeal, including the exchange of lists of documents, the completion of discoveries and undertakings, a deadline for the parties to inform the Hearings Coordinator whether the case will settle, whether case management or a pre-hearing conference is required, or if a hearing date should be set.

Parties may avoid going to a status hearing if undertakings for discovery and other appeal steps have already been taken, and they file for a hearing a date. If these steps are taken prior to the date of the status hearing, the status hearing will be cancelled.

Permanent implementation

  • appeals
  • case conferences
  • pre-trial procedure
  • Tax Court of Canada
1993 Rule 125 introduced
1995, 1999, 2004, 2010 Amendments made

 

1996 Manitoba Case Management of Family Matters (Rule 70)

Manitoba

Court of Queen's Bench Statutory Rules Committee

Court of Queen's Bench

Queen's Bench rule of court designed to reduce unnecessary delay and expense by promoting early and fair settlements in family litigation.

Rule 70.24(10), which outlines circumstances triggering a case conference, was amended in 2005 to remove the triggering mechanisms of an answer and the 90-day expiry date. Under the current rules, the process commences with the courts monitoring a case once a Petition or Notice of Application is filed to start the legal separation process. If a Notice of Motion is filed requesting immediate resolution of an issue and a court date is requested, a case conference between the parties and a judge is automatically scheduled. A case conference can also be scheduled at the request of either party. A 200-day time limit was introduced in the 2002 rules. If no proceedings occur after 200 days from the filing of the originating process, then the registrar will send out a notice of dismissal. The parties then have 30 days to proceed, otherwise the proceeding will be dismissed. The purpose of these time limits is to ensure that case conferences are scheduled and held on a regular basis to move the proceedings along. At a case management conference a Case Management Information Statement must be filed stating what issues have been resolved and what have not. All issues may be resolved at a case conference, or the judge may:

  • request further information
  • refer the parties to mediation
  • refer the parties to a parent education program
  • schedule another case conference

The same judge assigned to a case may continue to work on it until all the issues are resolved or until it is decided the case must go to trial. A case management judge will not oversee the contested hearing unless all parties agree. For cases that do not qualify for case management either because they commence outside of Winnipeg, or began before November 1, 2002 then pre-trial conferences in accordance with Rule 70.26 are to be held.

Rule 70 Case Management originated as a pilot projected initiated in Winnipeg in November 1995. The pilot experimented with the new case management rules by randomly selecting cases. In 1998, an evaluation was conducted of the pilot project in which it was found to be successful, and the report recommended it be extended. The project was expanded first to 20 percent of cases, and later to all Family Division cases.

In 2004, the Family Division Case Management Evaluation was conducted by Prairie Research Associates Inc. Their research indicated that the case management program was a success, however, it was subjecting the system to some added pressure. They recommended alleviating the burden on the judiciary and court staff by modifying the rules to limit their application to certain cases. The essential gist of the 2005 amendments was to alter Rule 70.24 by making the case management system somewhat less mandatory but still discourage undue delay by an automatic 200-day time limit.

Permanent implementation

  • cost of justice
  • Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba
  • delay
  • family law
  • rules of court
  • settlement
November 1995 Introduced as a pilot
1998 Evaluation conducted
2002 Full implementation of the program
2004 Second Evaluation conducted
2005 Amendments to improve case management
1996 Manitoba Expedited Actions (Rule 20A)

Manitoba

Court of Queen's Bench Statutory Rules Committee

Court of Queen's Bench

In 2006, Chief Justice Marc C. Monnin announced a review of the Rule 20A. The review was meant to determine whether the rule should be retained in its current form or be amended to resolve any problems that have arisen out of its application. A Review Committee was assigned consisting of Justices from the Court of Queen's Bench as well as members of the bar.

Streamlined procedure rule for all claims under $50,000 in Queen's Bench.

  • Rule 20A applies to all claims of $50,000 or less. It can also apply to cases above $50,000 by consent or order.
  • A case conference must be held under Rule 20A subject to some exceptions. The purpose of the case conference is to explore settlement possibilities and streamline proceedings
  • Rule 20A(16) gives the case conference judge the power to make orders he or she "considers appropriate to ensure a just, expeditious and cost effective determination of the action". Examples of possible orders are: dispensing with or limiting discovery, exchanging expert reports at a fixed time, requiring the parties to file an agreed statement of facts, requiring trial dates be fixed within 180 days of the date of the first case conference, or that a further case conference be held at a fixed date.
  • Rule 20A does not apply to family law proceedings

In 1996, the Court of Queen's Bench, at the prompting of the Manitoba Bar Association, introduced Rule 20A, intended to streamline the procedure for smaller claims brought in that court.

In May 2009, the Proposed Draft Rule 20A was circulated for comments by the profession to be received by June 30, 2009.
 

The proposed revisions to Queen's Bench Rule 20A...are based on the concept of proportionality, with the object being to institute a process that will facilitate the "expeditious and less expensive determinations of actions." It is proposed to adopt pre-trial procedures that are proportional in cost to the amount at issue in the action. The changes are intended to make it possible for litigants to have their modest claims adjudicated by the Court quickly and at reasonable cost. The existing rule contemplates that matters would be set down for trial within 180 days of the date of the first case conference. While this is not occurring under the current rules, the hope is to move closer to that goal with these new rules.

It is anticipated that such changes will enhance access to justice and diminish the negative impact on the legal system caused by the inability of parties to have their matters adjudicated in a financially equitable manner.

Introductory Remarks at 2

Permanent implementation

  • Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba
  • expedited litigation
  • rules of court
1996 Rule implemented
2006 Review of rule commenced
May 2009 Proposed Draft of the Revised Rule 20A circulated for comment
1996 Northwest Territories Case Management (Part 19)

Northwest Territories

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

The Court has noted areas which are in need of improvement and the Rules Committee had indicated its intention to address them commencing Fall 2007.

Rules facilitating resolution of disputes without trial if possible and, if a trial is required, simplifying issues so as to make the entire process more efficient in both time and money for the litigants.

Part 19 sets out a comprehensive scheme for pre-trial case management. There is no set procedure for case management. Instead Part 19 utilizes a flexible approach consisting of various case management tools (i.e. pre-trial conference) to be used based on the nature and needs of the case. The Court could send a case to case management or the parties may apply for it. A case management judge is then appointed. Once a judge is appointed, a variety of procedures are available:

  • Pre- trial conference: Rule 231 of the 1979 Rules of Court describes the objective of the pre-trial conference as the simplification of issues and exploration of the possibility of admission. The purpose of the pre-trial conference is not to bring about settlement, but if that is the result, then all the better.
  • Case management: In larger complex cases, a case management programme may be necessary. Settlement of the case is not the purpose of case management, but rather, it is to prepare the case for trial in the most efficient and cost effective way. Case management may involve establishing a schedule for all interlocutory pre-trial steps; limiting the time period for discovery; setting dates for the exchange of expert reports; filing a Statement of Agreed Facts. More than one case management conference may be scheduled. After each conference a judge would prepare a memorandum outlining the subject-matter of the conference and any directions made. The memorandum will provide at least an informal and basic record of steps taken at the conferences. A case management judge can be the trial judge due to the limited number of judges on the bench.
  • Settlement conference: A settlement conference is essentially a form of alternative dispute resolution designed to avoid trials. The judge's role is that of an objective mediator who keeps the discussion on track. Topic areas include: assessing success on various issues and damages that may be awarded; financial resources available to parties to meet a judgement; insurance coverage; offers and counter offers made; legal costs of litigation to date, to trial, and to possibly appeal. As a general rule, the settlement conference judge cannot be the trial judge. A settlement conference may be requested by the agreement of all the parties.
  • Mini-trial: Mini trials are in-camera hearings whereby the presiding judge gives a non binding advisory opinion on the probable outcome at trial [Rule 292]. The mini trial judge cannot be the trial judge. This procedure is best suited to cases which involve areas of legal dispute where neither credibility nor facts are significantly at issue. Although the judge's opinion would only be advisory, it normally would have a substantial enough effect on counsel to move the parties toward settlement.

Rule 288 permits sanctions against any party violating orders issued under Part 19.

The incorporation of Part 19 into the Rules of Court was essentially a formalization of dispute mechanism tools already informally used by the court. By putting the rules in writing, the Court is able to apply the procedures uniformly and with clear guidelines. Rules 281-292 (Part 19) were modelled on Saskatchewan's r. 192, Ontario's r.50, and B.C.'s r.35(5).

A second Notice to the Profession was released in December 1999 to clarify some minor problematic issues. Parties were utilizing case management to resolve issues that other Rules of Court were meant to resolve. Overall, however, it seems that case management was working well in the Northwest Territories and would be retained.

Permanent implementation

  • case conferences
  • rules of court
  • settlement conferences
  • Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories
  • case management
1996 Case management rules come into effect
December 1999 Notice to the Profession clarifying rules

 

1997 Ontario Case Management (Rule 77)

Ontario

Civil Rules Committee

Superior Court of Justice (Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor)

Ontario Superior Court of justice rule which manages the time and events of cases as they pass through the justice system.

Rule 77

  • Puts time frames in place for specific events, with flexibility to meet the special circumstances of each case.
  • Parties are encouraged to settle, narrow or consolidate issues in order to streamline proceedings. Early judicial intervention is used to promote the resolution of the case in a timely manner.
  • Applies to all civil actions and applications commenced in Toronto (limited by r.78), Ottawa and Windsor (as of December 31, 2002).
  • Does not apply to family law actions, class proceedings, estates, bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, mortgage actions, construction lien proceedings (except trust claims), Toronto Commercial List matters, or simplified rules (r.76) proceedings.
  • Cases are subject to mandatory mediation within 90 days of the filing of the first defence under r.24.1
  • Plaintiffs are required to select either the 'fast track' or the 'standard track' for their case based on the complexity of their case.
  • In the Toronto/Windsor locations, if mediation is unsuccessful or the case is exempt from mediation, the plaintiff must file a timetable or request a timetable within 180 days after the proceeding commenced.
  • Judicial intervention is accomplished by means of conferences with the parties. There are three types of conferences: (i) a case conference, (ii) a settlement conference, or (iii) trial management conference.

Application of Rule 77 Limited in Toronto Region
A Practice Direction was issued in November 2004 limiting the application of Rule 77 by Rule 78 in the Toronto region to those cases which required caseflow management. Rule 78 is a pilot project which no longer assigns civil cases automatically into a case management stream, but rather gives counsel more responsibilities on the progression of their case. Rule 78 is designed to respond more particularly to case needs.
 
Cased Not Falling Under Rule 77
Practice Direction issued in 2005 reiterated the tools available for judicial management of cases not falling under Rule 77:

  • Rule 37.15 allows the parties to request that a single judge be appointed to hear motions for proceedings involving complicated issues or if two or more proceedings involve similar issues.
  • Under Rule 48.14, Status Notices will be issued for actions that have not been placed on the trial list within two years after the filing of a statement of defence, indicating that the proceeding will be dismissed for delay, unless the action is set down for trial, the action is terminated by any means, or a status hearing is requested at which a judge orders otherwise.

In 1988, the Joint Committee on Court Reform called for implementation of a system of caseflow management. Pilot projects were established in three cities -- Sault Ste Marie, Windsor and Toronto.

In 1993, an assessment of the pilot projects was conducted by the Ministry of the Attorney General. The report concluded that the pilot projects were successful and made recommendations for their implementation.

A year later, in 1994, the Joint Committee on Court Reform engaged the QUINDECA Corporation, to conduct an independent review of the three pilot projects. QUINDECA's Report concluded that the case management experience in Ontario was sufficiently successful to warrant continuation.

As a result, the Ministry of the Attorney General's Civil Justice Review Committee produced a report endorsing the implementation of a caseflow management system in their 1995 First Report. The Civil Justice Review Committee called for a case flow management system on a province-wide basis by the year 2000. The report contained a draft rule on the subject, which later emerged as Rule 77. The draft rule was based on the experience gained in a previous pilot project conducted in Toronto, Essex and Algoma.

 
On October 1, 2008, the Civil Rules Committee issued a request for consultation on a proposed new case management Rule 77. These specific amendments "were so identified because they were not expressly considered, at least not in their current form, as part of the formal recommendations of the Civil Justice Reform Project".
 

One proposal is for a new case management rule (Rule 77) that carries with it certain consequential amendments to the rule respecting mandatory mediation (Rule 24.1). The intention of the new case management rule is to combine the existing three Rules that involve different forms of case management (rule 37.15, Rule 77 & Rule 78) into one Rule. The new Rule is designed to be flexible enough to permit different Regions of the Province to adapt the case management process to fit the individual needs of each Region. In that regard, the new Rule does not propose or envisage any substantive change to the manner in which case management currently operates in Ottawa, Toronto or Windsor. The new Rule also allows for different levels of case management for different cases. The mandatory mediation rule is to be altered to make it a separately operating rule such that mandatory mediation can be required in cases without also requiring those cases to be subject to case management and vice versa. There is also more flexibility as to the timeframe within which mandatory mediation must occur under the amended Rule.

Consultation Paper at 1
 

 

Implemented in Ottawa and Windsor; automatic application suspended in Toronto

  • litigation management
  • Ontario Superior Court of Justice
  • rules of court
  • case management
1988 Joint Committee on Court Reform called for caseflow management; pilot projects established subsequently
1993 Ministry of Attorney General concluded pilots were successful
1994 QUINDECA Corporation evaluation of caseflow management pilots
1995 First Report of the Civil Justice Review issued
1996 Civil Justice Review Supplemental and Final Report issued
1997 Implementation of Rule 77 in Ottawa and Toronto
2002 Implementation of Rule 77 in Windsor
2004 Automatic application suspended in Toronto.

 

1997 Prince Edward Island Case Management

Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island single track case management system that leads to the completion of discoveries and the involvement of case management judges at the earliest dates possible prior to the pre-trial conference.

The Prince Edward Island Supreme Court has adopted a single track case management system. The Court explicitly states that the case management process is to remain as simple as possible. The case management system is outlined in Practice Note 4 for General Division cases. The stages are as follows:

  • Once the pleadings close, a case management phone call occurs within 45 days after the service of the statement of defence. The case management coordinator sets the date for the call. The case management coordinator is responsible for planning and providing directions for future steps, as well as setting a date for a pre-trial conference. Throughout this process, more than one case management conference may be set, particularly if complex issues arise.
  • The case management conference is informal and done over the telephone. The judge or case management coordinator will briefly discuss the following topics: what are the contested and uncontested issues; the possibility of mediation and other alternative dispute mechanisms being utilized; what information each party will require from the other and dates set for the submission of those materials; what constitutes a reasonable time for a pre-trial conference.
  • Discovery must be completed within 90 days after pleadings are closed.
  • Pre-trial conference: Parties must be fully prepared for trial at the pre-trial conference and all documents must be submitted to the other party and the court. The judge will be prepared to make recommendations for settlement where possible. If the case is not settled, a pre-trial memorandum is prepared outlining what issues remain to be resolved and what have been resolved, as well as an estimate of the length of trial. The parties have the option of accessing the pre-trial judge up until the date of the trial to iron out last minute details.
  • Complex Cases: If a case has a complex issue of law or fact, the case management coordinator must be informed and she will obtain an appointment with a judge to continue the management of the case.
  • All documents including expert reports and the pre-trial memorandum must be filed and served on all parties at least 7 days prior to the pre-trial conference [Rule 50.01].

Practice Note 5 is an alternate case management system for family law cases. The two procedures are quite similar for the most part with some minor differences. Among these differences are shorter time spans for discovery (60 days instead of 90) and requirements for the clients to attend the pre-trial conference.

Permanent implementation

  • litigation management
  • pre-trial procedure
  • Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island (Trial Division)
1997 Case management implemented via Practice Note
2006 Practice Notes reviewed and consolidated
1998 Alberta Streamlined Procedure (Part 48)

Alberta

Rules of Court Committee

Court of Queen's Bench

Alberta Queen's Bench Rules of Court mandating streamlined procedure for civil actions of up to $75 000.

The Streamlined Procedure rules set forth in Part 48 are mandatory for civil actions up to $75 000. They can also be ordered by the court or agreed upon by both parties. Other rules continue to apply but only to the extent consistent with this procedure.

  • Parties can apply for a pre-trial conference after examinations for discovery. Timelines for submissions can be set by the court as well. [665]
  • Any party can apply for case management. [668]
  • Disclosure of connected witnesses is mandatory. [661(4)]
  • Examination for discovery of a party is limited to 6 hours. [662(1)]
  • Examinations can be done through writing. Written interrogatories are limited to 1000 words. [662(5)]
  • Appeals are allowed only from a final judgement or order. [671]
  • Each party must file and serve affidavit of documents within 30 days of close of pleadings. [661(1)]
  • Generally, no motions may be made without leave of the Court if banned by a case management judge or master. [669]
  • Costs are imposed for "unnecessary or ill-founded motions" and for failing to comply with deadlines.

In March 2003, the Alberta Law Reform Institute released a report analyzing the effectiveness of Streamlined Procedure. It collected responses and sent out proposals for the reform of streamlined procedure or the introduction of a simple track, or both. Some of the criticisms of Streamlined Procedure included:

 

  • Streamlined Procedure should not come in only based on dollar amounts but rather the complexity or simplicity of the case.
  • After the Affidavits of Records stage, the procedure slows down significantly and becomes no different than the regular track.
  • Lack of awareness of the availability of streamlined procedure by lawyers and clients, as well as a concern among lawyers that the limitations would mean the submission of a less than complete case for final disposition.

As a result of this study, the Alberta Law Reform Institute concluded in its 2004-2005 Annual Report that if different tracks for different types of cases are implemented, then streamlined procedure should be eliminated.

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
  • expedited litigation
  • reform
  • rules of court
1998 Rules implemented
2003 Alberta Law Reform Institute review
1998 Alberta Streamlined Procedure (Part 48)

Alberta

Rules of Court Committee

Court of Queen's Bench

Alberta Queen's Bench Rules of Court mandating streamlined procedure for civil actions of up to $75 000.

The Streamlined Procedure rules set forth in Part 48 are mandatory for civil actions up to $75 000. They can also be ordered by the court or agreed upon by both parties. Other rules continue to apply but only to the extent consistent with this procedure.

  • Parties can apply for a pre-trial conference after examinations for discovery. Timelines for submissions can be set by the court as well. [665]
  • Any party can apply for case management. [668]
  • Disclosure of connected witnesses is mandatory. [661(4)]
  • Examination for discovery of a party is limited to 6 hours. [662(1)]
  • Examinations can be done through writing. Written interrogatories are limited to 1000 words. [662(5)]
  • Appeals are allowed only from a final judgement or order. [671]
  • Each party must file and serve affidavit of documents within 30 days of close of pleadings. [661(1)]
  • Generally, no motions may be made without leave of the Court if banned by a case management judge or master. [669]
  • Costs are imposed for "unnecessary or ill-founded motions" and for failing to comply with deadlines.

In March 2003, the Alberta Law Reform Institute released a report analyzing the effectiveness of Streamlined Procedure. It collected responses and sent out proposals for the reform of streamlined procedure or the introduction of a simple track, or both. Some of the criticisms of Streamlined Procedure included:

 

  • Streamlined Procedure should not come in only based on dollar amounts but rather the complexity or simplicity of the case.
  • After the Affidavits of Records stage, the procedure slows down significantly and becomes no different than the regular track.
  • Lack of awareness of the availability of streamlined procedure by lawyers and clients, as well as a concern among lawyers that the limitations would mean the submission of a less than complete case for final disposition.

As a result of this study, the Alberta Law Reform Institute concluded in its 2004-2005 Annual Report that if different tracks for different types of cases are implemented, then streamlined procedure should be eliminated.

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
  • expedited litigation
  • reform
  • rules of court
1998 Rules implemented
2003 Alberta Law Reform Institute review
1998 Alberta Summary Trial Rules

Alberta

Court of Queen's Bench

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. As a result, the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) was assigned to manage the Rules of Court project to oversee the rewriting of the rules. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible.

Rule 158 was reviewed as part of this project.

Alberta Queen's Bench Rules of Court setting out simpler procedure for adjudicating an entire action or one or more issues suitable for summary trial determination.

The summary trial procedure is set out in Part 11, Rules 158.1 - 158.7. It allows a judge to order one or more issues tried by this shorter, and usually simpler, procedure, even if the entire action cannot be conveniently tried in this manner. A decision under these rules is a final judgment which is appealable. Evidence is introduced by affidavit, or with an order, viva voce.

The decision as to whether a matter can be tried by this procedure is made by way of an application in chambers; if the matter is deemed suitable, it is then set for a summary trial. Much of the evidence to be adduced at the summary trial procedure must be introduced in the chambers application...

The Rules do not set out a test nor a process for determining whether a case is suitable for summary trial procedure, other than indicating that a notice of motion is required to apply for judgment (Rule 158.1), and that "on or before the hearing of a summary trial...the judge may" determine whether any issue is suitable for disposition under this procedure (Rule 158.4(1)(a)), or dismiss the summary trial "on the grounds that (i) the issues raised by the notice of motion are not suitable for disposition under this Division, or (ii) the summary trial will not assist the efficient resolution of the action" (Rule 158.4(1)(b)).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 33-34

PN8 sets out the process for determining whether a case is suitable for summary trial procedure, which states that:

  • there are two components to a summary trial - (1) is/are the issue(s) suitable for a summary trial determination, and (2) the merits of the summary trial application. [2(a)]
  • determination of these two components could occur in one application or as two separate matters [2(b)(c)(d)]
The stage one application can be made as a regular chambers application (if it will take less than 20 minutes), or if it will take more than 20 minutes to argue, counsel must reserve a date and time on the civil trial list (PN8, para. 3). The Rules do not address, and the practice note is not entirely clear about, what evidence must be produced at the first stage application: however, the case law establishes that generally most, if not all, of the material that would be filed in support of the summary trial application will be required at the first stage as well. That is why a number of lawyers commented that this type of application involves a great deal of work.

PN8 also confirms that counsel can choose to make the application for determination of suitability for summary trial at the time the summary trial is to be heard, and that even though a preliminary determination is made that the summary trial procedure is appropriate for a particular case, the judge hearing the summary trial can reverse that decision and set the matter for a regular trial (as is set out in Rule 158.6).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 35-36
Not all matters are suitable for disposition by way of a summary trial. In Alberta, Rule 158.4 gives a discretion to the judge hearing a summary trial to adjourn or dismiss it on the grounds that the issues are not suitable for disposition as a summary trial or that a summary trial will not assist the efficient resolution of the action. The rule states that this determination may be made "on or before the hearing of a summary trial" (158.4(1)). The amendments in 2000 added an option of providing advice and directions "including, without determining the merits of a summary trial procedure, a determination, subject to 158.6(1), whether any issue raised in the notice of motion is suitable for disposition under this Division" (Rule 158.4(1)(a)).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 34

Rules 158.1-158.7 (Part 11, Division 1) governing Summary Trials were added to the Alberta Rules of Court on September 1, 1998. These Rules were modelled after B.C.'s Rule 18A.

In September 2000, the Rules were amended and QB Civil Practice Note No. 8 ("PN8") was introduced to further broaden judicial direction.

As was noted in the legal community consultations, the summary trial procedures can be very effective but seem to be rarely granted and require a lot of paper work to make the initial application.

Summary Disposition of Actions at 36

ALRI identified the following issues and made corresponding recommendations to the Rules Project General Rewrite Committee in August of 2004:
 

Issues

  • Issue 10: Should the summary trial procedure be a one-stage procedure, a two-stage procedure, or should there be an option?
  • Issue 11: Should the factors to be considered by the court in applying the test for allowing a case to be determined by the summary trial procedure be set out in the rule, or in the practice note?
  • Issue 12: Would changes to the summary trial procedure assist in meeting the goals of lessening delay and providing increased access to justice? For example: (i) Should the rules set out the evidence needed for summary trial in different types of cases? (ii) Do the deadlines for filing materials provide enough time for crossexamination? (iii) Is the way in which summary trials are booked the most efficient method?
  • Issue 13: Summary Trial vs. Jury Trial

Recommendations

The Committee proposed the following:

  • the rules should not set out the evidence needed for summary trial in different types of cases.
  • Rule 158.4(3) should be deleted as it is unnecessary.
  • Rule 158.1 should state that the applicant can include expert evidence in an affidavit; that 218.1 does not need to be complied with; and that timelines can be modified with leave.

The Committee agreed that the summary trial procedure rules should be changed to reflect a presumptive one-stage procedure, rebuttable on application by a respondent who wants to argue that summary trial procedure is not appropriate in the circumstances.

With respect to the test for summary trial, the Committee agreed that the test should be stated in a rule, not a practice note, and should articulate the factors in Rule 158.4(1)(b), although the wording should be clarified and the test should be stated positively. The Committee also agreed to retaining the word "may" in the rule as opposed to making the procedure mandatory.

Given the recent legislative change, the Committee agreed that no change be made to the summary trial rule regarding jury trials now.

Summary Disposition of Actions at 45-46

Proposed Rules 7.5-7.11, Summary Trials (Part 7, Division 3)

Based on the recommendations of the Committee, new Rules were finalized and released on October 2008, including new Proposed Rules 7.5-7.11 governing Summary Trials.

The new Rules state that:

  • a party may apply for judgment by way of a summary trial, which application must (a) be in the prescribed form, (b) specify the issue to be determined, (c) include reasons why the matter is suitable for determination by way of summary trial, (d) be accompanied by an affidavit or any other evidence to be relied on, and (e) specify a date for the hearing of the summary trial, which must be one month or longer after service of notice of the application on the respondent (r.7.5)
  • the respondent to an application must, 10 days or more before the date scheduled to hear the application, file and serve on the applicant any affidavit or other evidence on which the respondent intends to rely (r.7.6)
  • rules re Disclosure of Information, and Experts and Expert Reports apply unless the parties otherwise agree or the court otherwise orders (r.7.7(1))
  • the respondent may object to the application at or before the hearing if either the issue raised is not suitable for a summary trial, or a summary trial will not facilitate resolution of the claim (r.7.8(1)) and if the court so finds, it must dismiss the application (r.7.8(3))
  • after a summary trial, the judge may dismiss the application, or grant the application and give judgment in favour of a party, unless (i) on the evidence before the judge, the judge is unable to find the facts necessary to decide the issues of fact or law, or (ii) the judge is of the opinion that it would be unjust to decide the issues on the basis of the summary trial (r.7.9)
  • If no judgment is given, the judge may (a) order the trial of the action and give directions with respect to preparation for trial and a trial date; (b) give any procedural order that the circumstances require (r.7.11)

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
  • proposed reforms
  • reform
  • rules of court
  • summary trials
1 September 1998 Summary Trial Rules came into effect
September 2000 QB Civil Practice Note No. 8 introduced and Summary Trial Rules amended
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
October 2008 Proposed Rules released
1 January 2010 Planned implementation date
1998 Alberta Summary Trial Rules

Alberta

Court of Queen's Bench

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. As a result, the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) was assigned to manage the Rules of Court project to oversee the rewriting of the rules. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible.

Rule 158 was reviewed as part of this project.

Alberta Queen's Bench Rules of Court setting out simpler procedure for adjudicating an entire action or one or more issues suitable for summary trial determination.

The summary trial procedure is set out in Part 11, Rules 158.1 - 158.7. It allows a judge to order one or more issues tried by this shorter, and usually simpler, procedure, even if the entire action cannot be conveniently tried in this manner. A decision under these rules is a final judgment which is appealable. Evidence is introduced by affidavit, or with an order, viva voce.

The decision as to whether a matter can be tried by this procedure is made by way of an application in chambers; if the matter is deemed suitable, it is then set for a summary trial. Much of the evidence to be adduced at the summary trial procedure must be introduced in the chambers application...

The Rules do not set out a test nor a process for determining whether a case is suitable for summary trial procedure, other than indicating that a notice of motion is required to apply for judgment (Rule 158.1), and that "on or before the hearing of a summary trial...the judge may" determine whether any issue is suitable for disposition under this procedure (Rule 158.4(1)(a)), or dismiss the summary trial "on the grounds that (i) the issues raised by the notice of motion are not suitable for disposition under this Division, or (ii) the summary trial will not assist the efficient resolution of the action" (Rule 158.4(1)(b)).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 33-34

PN8 sets out the process for determining whether a case is suitable for summary trial procedure, which states that:

  • there are two components to a summary trial - (1) is/are the issue(s) suitable for a summary trial determination, and (2) the merits of the summary trial application. [2(a)]
  • determination of these two components could occur in one application or as two separate matters [2(b)(c)(d)]
The stage one application can be made as a regular chambers application (if it will take less than 20 minutes), or if it will take more than 20 minutes to argue, counsel must reserve a date and time on the civil trial list (PN8, para. 3). The Rules do not address, and the practice note is not entirely clear about, what evidence must be produced at the first stage application: however, the case law establishes that generally most, if not all, of the material that would be filed in support of the summary trial application will be required at the first stage as well. That is why a number of lawyers commented that this type of application involves a great deal of work.

PN8 also confirms that counsel can choose to make the application for determination of suitability for summary trial at the time the summary trial is to be heard, and that even though a preliminary determination is made that the summary trial procedure is appropriate for a particular case, the judge hearing the summary trial can reverse that decision and set the matter for a regular trial (as is set out in Rule 158.6).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 35-36
Not all matters are suitable for disposition by way of a summary trial. In Alberta, Rule 158.4 gives a discretion to the judge hearing a summary trial to adjourn or dismiss it on the grounds that the issues are not suitable for disposition as a summary trial or that a summary trial will not assist the efficient resolution of the action. The rule states that this determination may be made "on or before the hearing of a summary trial" (158.4(1)). The amendments in 2000 added an option of providing advice and directions "including, without determining the merits of a summary trial procedure, a determination, subject to 158.6(1), whether any issue raised in the notice of motion is suitable for disposition under this Division" (Rule 158.4(1)(a)).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 34

Rules 158.1-158.7 (Part 11, Division 1) governing Summary Trials were added to the Alberta Rules of Court on September 1, 1998. These Rules were modelled after B.C.'s Rule 18A.

In September 2000, the Rules were amended and QB Civil Practice Note No. 8 ("PN8") was introduced to further broaden judicial direction.

As was noted in the legal community consultations, the summary trial procedures can be very effective but seem to be rarely granted and require a lot of paper work to make the initial application.

Summary Disposition of Actions at 36

ALRI identified the following issues and made corresponding recommendations to the Rules Project General Rewrite Committee in August of 2004:
 

Issues

  • Issue 10: Should the summary trial procedure be a one-stage procedure, a two-stage procedure, or should there be an option?
  • Issue 11: Should the factors to be considered by the court in applying the test for allowing a case to be determined by the summary trial procedure be set out in the rule, or in the practice note?
  • Issue 12: Would changes to the summary trial procedure assist in meeting the goals of lessening delay and providing increased access to justice? For example: (i) Should the rules set out the evidence needed for summary trial in different types of cases? (ii) Do the deadlines for filing materials provide enough time for crossexamination? (iii) Is the way in which summary trials are booked the most efficient method?
  • Issue 13: Summary Trial vs. Jury Trial

Recommendations

The Committee proposed the following:

  • the rules should not set out the evidence needed for summary trial in different types of cases.
  • Rule 158.4(3) should be deleted as it is unnecessary.
  • Rule 158.1 should state that the applicant can include expert evidence in an affidavit; that 218.1 does not need to be complied with; and that timelines can be modified with leave.

The Committee agreed that the summary trial procedure rules should be changed to reflect a presumptive one-stage procedure, rebuttable on application by a respondent who wants to argue that summary trial procedure is not appropriate in the circumstances.

With respect to the test for summary trial, the Committee agreed that the test should be stated in a rule, not a practice note, and should articulate the factors in Rule 158.4(1)(b), although the wording should be clarified and the test should be stated positively. The Committee also agreed to retaining the word "may" in the rule as opposed to making the procedure mandatory.

Given the recent legislative change, the Committee agreed that no change be made to the summary trial rule regarding jury trials now.

Summary Disposition of Actions at 45-46

Proposed Rules 7.5-7.11, Summary Trials (Part 7, Division 3)

Based on the recommendations of the Committee, new Rules were finalized and released on October 2008, including new Proposed Rules 7.5-7.11 governing Summary Trials.

The new Rules state that:

  • a party may apply for judgment by way of a summary trial, which application must (a) be in the prescribed form, (b) specify the issue to be determined, (c) include reasons why the matter is suitable for determination by way of summary trial, (d) be accompanied by an affidavit or any other evidence to be relied on, and (e) specify a date for the hearing of the summary trial, which must be one month or longer after service of notice of the application on the respondent (r.7.5)
  • the respondent to an application must, 10 days or more before the date scheduled to hear the application, file and serve on the applicant any affidavit or other evidence on which the respondent intends to rely (r.7.6)
  • rules re Disclosure of Information, and Experts and Expert Reports apply unless the parties otherwise agree or the court otherwise orders (r.7.7(1))
  • the respondent may object to the application at or before the hearing if either the issue raised is not suitable for a summary trial, or a summary trial will not facilitate resolution of the claim (r.7.8(1)) and if the court so finds, it must dismiss the application (r.7.8(3))
  • after a summary trial, the judge may dismiss the application, or grant the application and give judgment in favour of a party, unless (i) on the evidence before the judge, the judge is unable to find the facts necessary to decide the issues of fact or law, or (ii) the judge is of the opinion that it would be unjust to decide the issues on the basis of the summary trial (r.7.9)
  • If no judgment is given, the judge may (a) order the trial of the action and give directions with respect to preparation for trial and a trial date; (b) give any procedural order that the circumstances require (r.7.11)

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
  • proposed reforms
  • reform
  • rules of court
  • summary trials
1 September 1998 Summary Trial Rules came into effect
September 2000 QB Civil Practice Note No. 8 introduced and Summary Trial Rules amended
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
October 2008 Proposed Rules released
1 January 2010 Planned implementation date
1998 Alberta Summary Trial Rules

Alberta

Court of Queen's Bench

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. As a result, the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) was assigned to manage the Rules of Court project to oversee the rewriting of the rules. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible.

Rule 158 was reviewed as part of this project.

Alberta Queen's Bench Rules of Court setting out simpler procedure for adjudicating an entire action or one or more issues suitable for summary trial determination.

The summary trial procedure is set out in Part 11, Rules 158.1 - 158.7. It allows a judge to order one or more issues tried by this shorter, and usually simpler, procedure, even if the entire action cannot be conveniently tried in this manner. A decision under these rules is a final judgment which is appealable. Evidence is introduced by affidavit, or with an order, viva voce.

The decision as to whether a matter can be tried by this procedure is made by way of an application in chambers; if the matter is deemed suitable, it is then set for a summary trial. Much of the evidence to be adduced at the summary trial procedure must be introduced in the chambers application...

The Rules do not set out a test nor a process for determining whether a case is suitable for summary trial procedure, other than indicating that a notice of motion is required to apply for judgment (Rule 158.1), and that "on or before the hearing of a summary trial...the judge may" determine whether any issue is suitable for disposition under this procedure (Rule 158.4(1)(a)), or dismiss the summary trial "on the grounds that (i) the issues raised by the notice of motion are not suitable for disposition under this Division, or (ii) the summary trial will not assist the efficient resolution of the action" (Rule 158.4(1)(b)).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 33-34

PN8 sets out the process for determining whether a case is suitable for summary trial procedure, which states that:

  • there are two components to a summary trial - (1) is/are the issue(s) suitable for a summary trial determination, and (2) the merits of the summary trial application. [2(a)]
  • determination of these two components could occur in one application or as two separate matters [2(b)(c)(d)]
The stage one application can be made as a regular chambers application (if it will take less than 20 minutes), or if it will take more than 20 minutes to argue, counsel must reserve a date and time on the civil trial list (PN8, para. 3). The Rules do not address, and the practice note is not entirely clear about, what evidence must be produced at the first stage application: however, the case law establishes that generally most, if not all, of the material that would be filed in support of the summary trial application will be required at the first stage as well. That is why a number of lawyers commented that this type of application involves a great deal of work.

PN8 also confirms that counsel can choose to make the application for determination of suitability for summary trial at the time the summary trial is to be heard, and that even though a preliminary determination is made that the summary trial procedure is appropriate for a particular case, the judge hearing the summary trial can reverse that decision and set the matter for a regular trial (as is set out in Rule 158.6).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 35-36
Not all matters are suitable for disposition by way of a summary trial. In Alberta, Rule 158.4 gives a discretion to the judge hearing a summary trial to adjourn or dismiss it on the grounds that the issues are not suitable for disposition as a summary trial or that a summary trial will not assist the efficient resolution of the action. The rule states that this determination may be made "on or before the hearing of a summary trial" (158.4(1)). The amendments in 2000 added an option of providing advice and directions "including, without determining the merits of a summary trial procedure, a determination, subject to 158.6(1), whether any issue raised in the notice of motion is suitable for disposition under this Division" (Rule 158.4(1)(a)).

Summary Disposition of Actions at 34

Rules 158.1-158.7 (Part 11, Division 1) governing Summary Trials were added to the Alberta Rules of Court on September 1, 1998. These Rules were modelled after B.C.'s Rule 18A.

In September 2000, the Rules were amended and QB Civil Practice Note No. 8 ("PN8") was introduced to further broaden judicial direction.

As was noted in the legal community consultations, the summary trial procedures can be very effective but seem to be rarely granted and require a lot of paper work to make the initial application.

Summary Disposition of Actions at 36

ALRI identified the following issues and made corresponding recommendations to the Rules Project General Rewrite Committee in August of 2004:
 

Issues

  • Issue 10: Should the summary trial procedure be a one-stage procedure, a two-stage procedure, or should there be an option?
  • Issue 11: Should the factors to be considered by the court in applying the test for allowing a case to be determined by the summary trial procedure be set out in the rule, or in the practice note?
  • Issue 12: Would changes to the summary trial procedure assist in meeting the goals of lessening delay and providing increased access to justice? For example: (i) Should the rules set out the evidence needed for summary trial in different types of cases? (ii) Do the deadlines for filing materials provide enough time for crossexamination? (iii) Is the way in which summary trials are booked the most efficient method?
  • Issue 13: Summary Trial vs. Jury Trial

Recommendations

The Committee proposed the following:

  • the rules should not set out the evidence needed for summary trial in different types of cases.
  • Rule 158.4(3) should be deleted as it is unnecessary.
  • Rule 158.1 should state that the applicant can include expert evidence in an affidavit; that 218.1 does not need to be complied with; and that timelines can be modified with leave.

The Committee agreed that the summary trial procedure rules should be changed to reflect a presumptive one-stage procedure, rebuttable on application by a respondent who wants to argue that summary trial procedure is not appropriate in the circumstances.

With respect to the test for summary trial, the Committee agreed that the test should be stated in a rule, not a practice note, and should articulate the factors in Rule 158.4(1)(b), although the wording should be clarified and the test should be stated positively. The Committee also agreed to retaining the word "may" in the rule as opposed to making the procedure mandatory.

Given the recent legislative change, the Committee agreed that no change be made to the summary trial rule regarding jury trials now.

Summary Disposition of Actions at 45-46

Proposed Rules 7.5-7.11, Summary Trials (Part 7, Division 3)

Based on the recommendations of the Committee, new Rules were finalized and released on October 2008, including new Proposed Rules 7.5-7.11 governing Summary Trials.

The new Rules state that:

  • a party may apply for judgment by way of a summary trial, which application must (a) be in the prescribed form, (b) specify the issue to be determined, (c) include reasons why the matter is suitable for determination by way of summary trial, (d) be accompanied by an affidavit or any other evidence to be relied on, and (e) specify a date for the hearing of the summary trial, which must be one month or longer after service of notice of the application on the respondent (r.7.5)
  • the respondent to an application must, 10 days or more before the date scheduled to hear the application, file and serve on the applicant any affidavit or other evidence on which the respondent intends to rely (r.7.6)
  • rules re Disclosure of Information, and Experts and Expert Reports apply unless the parties otherwise agree or the court otherwise orders (r.7.7(1))
  • the respondent may object to the application at or before the hearing if either the issue raised is not suitable for a summary trial, or a summary trial will not facilitate resolution of the claim (r.7.8(1)) and if the court so finds, it must dismiss the application (r.7.8(3))
  • after a summary trial, the judge may dismiss the application, or grant the application and give judgment in favour of a party, unless (i) on the evidence before the judge, the judge is unable to find the facts necessary to decide the issues of fact or law, or (ii) the judge is of the opinion that it would be unjust to decide the issues on the basis of the summary trial (r.7.9)
  • If no judgment is given, the judge may (a) order the trial of the action and give directions with respect to preparation for trial and a trial date; (b) give any procedural order that the circumstances require (r.7.11)

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
  • proposed reforms
  • reform
  • rules of court
  • summary trials
1 September 1998 Summary Trial Rules came into effect
September 2000 QB Civil Practice Note No. 8 introduced and Summary Trial Rules amended
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
October 2008 Proposed Rules released
1 January 2010 Planned implementation date
1998 BC Family Justice Registry (Rule 5)

British Columbia

Ministry of the Attorney General

Provincial Court (Family)

The evaluation investigated six issues:

  • 1. Diversion from court: the extent to which Rule 5 diverts family matters from court.
  • 2. Court use: the extent to which Rule 5 reduces the number of court appearances per application filed at court
  • 3. Claims of urgency: whether there is evidence to suggest that parties file claims of urgency with their applications simply to avoid the mandatory triage process
  • 4. Family case conferences: the use and effectiveness of family case conferences to resolve disputes within the court system
  • 5. Case outcomes: the degree to which cases conclude with court orders, rather than consent orders or agreements, in Rule 5 registries and comparison sites
  • 6. Benefits to clients: the perceptions of staff, the judiciary and clients themselves regarding the benefits of the triage process.
Evaluation at 4.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of Rule 5, an extensive comparison of cases at pilot locations and comparator sites was conducted. Furthermore, files that preceded the rule changes at both sites were compared to files that came after the new rules. A total of 2,800 court files representing nearly 3,400 FRA applications were reviewed.

Additionally, 39 in-depth interviews were conducted with members of the judiciary, FJC's, and court registry staff. A short written survey of nearly 300 clients was used to obtain feedback on the Triage services.

Rule requiring parties to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor for a triage appointment prior to a first appearance before a judge to clarify the options available for resolving their disputes.

[P]arties to FRA cases are required to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor (FJC) for a triage appointment prior to a first appearance before a judge. The FJC helps each party individually to clarify their issues and understand the options available for resolving their disputes. Mediation services are available free of charge to families of limited income, at the triage offices. FJCs may refer parties to mediation or other services; the parties may choose to act on these referrals or request a referral to court. Although Rule 5 makes triage mandatory, exemptions from the triage process are permitted where there is an urgent need for a court appearance and in other limited circumstances.

Evaluation at 3.

On December 1, 1998, the Ministry of Attorney General introduced new Provincial Court (Family) Rules, designed to improve case management and to provide more opportunities for early settlement such as judicial Family Case Conferences. Changes to the rules were made in response to issues related to accessibility and timeliness of the family court process and to the complexity of the family justice system.

One of the new rules, Rule 5, was designed to reduce the use of the provincial court for Family Relations Act (FRA) matters by promoting the use of early, non-court methods of dispute resolution and by reducing the number and complexity of FRA trials.

Rule 5 introduced a new process, informally known as "triage", as a required first step in FRA cases in the designated Family Justice Registries of Surrey, Kelowna and Robson Square. On April 1, 2007, Nanaimo was established as a fourth Family Justice Registry. In these Registries, most parties to FRA cases are required to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor (FJC) for a triage appointment prior to a first appearance before a judge.

Website

Diversion from the Courts

Before the implementation of Rule 5, 2-3% of cases did not go to court. After the Rule 5 was implemented, 29% of cases did not proceed to court. The diversion that resulted from Rule 5 was approximately 70% greater than sites without the rule.
 

Court Use

Rule 5 was meant to reduce the number of court appearances by helping litigants narrow their issues. The evaluation found that the number of court appearances were reduced in Rule 5 jurisdictions. There were 1.6 appearances in Rule 5 sites compared to 2.1 in regular jurisdictions. Furthermore, after the introduction of the new rules of court there was an overall reduction in appearances, however, the reduction was more pronounced in Rule 5 jurisdictions. There was a 41% decrease in appearances in Rule 5 sites, compared to 17% in regular jurisdictions.
 

Claims of Urgency

Some litigants try to avoid rule 5 by applying for exemptions. There was a slight increase in exemptions in Rule 5 jurisdictions (1%) as opposed to a 4% decrease in other jurisdictions.
 

Family Case Conference

There was no significant difference between case conference rule 5 jurisdictions and comparison sites. However, judges that were interviewed found them useful in reducing appearances. But they did find that time limitations affected their ability to have case conferences.
 

Case Settlement Patterns

It was anticipated that the number of cases settled by court orders would be reduced with the new court rules. However, there was in an increase of court ordered resolutions in comparison sites. At Rule 5 sites, there was a 5-6% decrease. This was not overly significant.
 

Client Benefits

The triage process was intended to provide information, assistance and other benefits to clients. The hope was that their disputes could be resolved in a less costly manner. Through surveys and interviews, the report concluded that:

Triage educates and informs parties about the family justice process and alternative methods of dispute resolution.

  • Meeting with an FJC for triage helps parties to clarify and/or narrow issues, and consider the other party's issues.
  • Triage has a diffusing effect, addressing the charged emotions that often characterize family justice cases.
Evluation at 8.

Judges also expressed their preference for Rule 5. They preferred the personalized approach as much more effective at handling family disputes than the adversarial process.

  • 93% of survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that going to the Family Justice Centre was useful to them, and
  • 96% agreed or strongly agreed that they were given useful information by the FJC.
Evluation at 8-9.

Permanent implementation

  • assessment
  • family law
  • litigants
  • Provincial Court of British Columbia
  • rules of court
December 1998 Rule 5 introduced in Surrey, Vancouver (Robson Square), Nelson, Castlegar and Rossland registries
May 2001 Expanded to Kelowna
November 2002 Evaluation released
April 2007 Expanded to Nanaimo
1998 BC Fast Track Litigation (Rule 66)

British Columbia

BC Supreme Court

BC Supreme Court fast track rules that apply to actions which will likely take 2 or less days of trial time.

Rule 66 applies to actions which will likely take 2 or less days of trial time. For Rule 66 to apply, either the plaintiff or the defendant must opt for fast track at the time of the Statement of Claim or Statement of Defence. Features of Rule 66 include:

  • Discovery is limited to two hours per party.
  • There are no interrogatories.
  • No jury trials.
  • The trial date must be applied for within four months of the case going on Fast Track. The date assigned for trial will be within four months of the date of application.
  • Parties are required to file a trial agenda which will set out how the two day trial is to proceed.
  • Costs are set at fixed amounts.

Rule 66 grew out of the BC Supreme Court's Litigation Management Committee discussion of a multiple track system. The Committee was comprised of members of the bar, the court, representatives of the federal and provincial Attorneys-General and the public. Submissions were received from members of the legal profession, and drafting help was received from the Rules Revision Committee. The fast track rules began as a pilot project running from September 1, 1998.

In its November 2006 report, the BC Justice Review Task Force made a number of recommendations for the re-writing of the Supreme Court Rules. After several drafts and consultations, it was announced that the new civil and family rules have been adopted and will be fully implemented July 1, 2010.

Part 15, the new fast track litigation rule, combines old Rules 68 and 66, governing expedited litigation and fast track litigation, respectively, "to provide a single simplified and fast procedure when the amount in controversy is $100,000 or less or when the trial of the action can be completed in three days or less" (Key Features at 3).

In a 2003 Advocate editorial, Rule 66 was praised as a "versatile and useful tool... placed in the hands of litigators wishing to have a civil dispute of modest dimensions adjudicated in a speedy, comparatively inexpensive, yet just manner." (Entre Nous)

According to the Justice Review Task Force reportExploring Fundamental Change, a Supreme Court evaluation found that Rule 66 was not successful in fully achieving its objectives. Further evaluation of economical litigation alternatives led to the implementation of the Rule 68 Expedited Litigation Project.

Permanent implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
1998 Fast Track procedure implemented in Vancouver, New Westminster and Kamloops as a pilot project
2002 Rule 66 took effect province-wide.
July 1, 2010 Projected implementation of new Rules, replacing Rule 66
1998 BC Fast Track Litigation (Rule 66)

British Columbia

BC Supreme Court

BC Supreme Court fast track rules that apply to actions which will likely take 2 or less days of trial time.

Rule 66 applies to actions which will likely take 2 or less days of trial time. For Rule 66 to apply, either the plaintiff or the defendant must opt for fast track at the time of the Statement of Claim or Statement of Defence. Features of Rule 66 include:

  • Discovery is limited to two hours per party.
  • There are no interrogatories.
  • No jury trials.
  • The trial date must be applied for within four months of the case going on Fast Track. The date assigned for trial will be within four months of the date of application.
  • Parties are required to file a trial agenda which will set out how the two day trial is to proceed.
  • Costs are set at fixed amounts.

Rule 66 grew out of the BC Supreme Court's Litigation Management Committee discussion of a multiple track system. The Committee was comprised of members of the bar, the court, representatives of the federal and provincial Attorneys-General and the public. Submissions were received from members of the legal profession, and drafting help was received from the Rules Revision Committee. The fast track rules began as a pilot project running from September 1, 1998.

In its November 2006 report, the BC Justice Review Task Force made a number of recommendations for the re-writing of the Supreme Court Rules. After several drafts and consultations, it was announced that the new civil and family rules have been adopted and will be fully implemented July 1, 2010.

Part 15, the new fast track litigation rule, combines old Rules 68 and 66, governing expedited litigation and fast track litigation, respectively, "to provide a single simplified and fast procedure when the amount in controversy is $100,000 or less or when the trial of the action can be completed in three days or less" (Key Features at 3).

In a 2003 Advocate editorial, Rule 66 was praised as a "versatile and useful tool... placed in the hands of litigators wishing to have a civil dispute of modest dimensions adjudicated in a speedy, comparatively inexpensive, yet just manner." (Entre Nous)

According to the Justice Review Task Force reportExploring Fundamental Change, a Supreme Court evaluation found that Rule 66 was not successful in fully achieving its objectives. Further evaluation of economical litigation alternatives led to the implementation of the Rule 68 Expedited Litigation Project.

Permanent implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
1998 Fast Track procedure implemented in Vancouver, New Westminster and Kamloops as a pilot project
2002 Rule 66 took effect province-wide.
July 1, 2010 Projected implementation of new Rules, replacing Rule 66
1998 BC Fast Track Litigation (Rule 66)

British Columbia

BC Supreme Court

BC Supreme Court fast track rules that apply to actions which will likely take 2 or less days of trial time.

Rule 66 applies to actions which will likely take 2 or less days of trial time. For Rule 66 to apply, either the plaintiff or the defendant must opt for fast track at the time of the Statement of Claim or Statement of Defence. Features of Rule 66 include:

  • Discovery is limited to two hours per party.
  • There are no interrogatories.
  • No jury trials.
  • The trial date must be applied for within four months of the case going on Fast Track. The date assigned for trial will be within four months of the date of application.
  • Parties are required to file a trial agenda which will set out how the two day trial is to proceed.
  • Costs are set at fixed amounts.

Rule 66 grew out of the BC Supreme Court's Litigation Management Committee discussion of a multiple track system. The Committee was comprised of members of the bar, the court, representatives of the federal and provincial Attorneys-General and the public. Submissions were received from members of the legal profession, and drafting help was received from the Rules Revision Committee. The fast track rules began as a pilot project running from September 1, 1998.

In its November 2006 report, the BC Justice Review Task Force made a number of recommendations for the re-writing of the Supreme Court Rules. After several drafts and consultations, it was announced that the new civil and family rules have been adopted and will be fully implemented July 1, 2010.

Part 15, the new fast track litigation rule, combines old Rules 68 and 66, governing expedited litigation and fast track litigation, respectively, "to provide a single simplified and fast procedure when the amount in controversy is $100,000 or less or when the trial of the action can be completed in three days or less" (Key Features at 3).

In a 2003 Advocate editorial, Rule 66 was praised as a "versatile and useful tool... placed in the hands of litigators wishing to have a civil dispute of modest dimensions adjudicated in a speedy, comparatively inexpensive, yet just manner." (Entre Nous)

According to the Justice Review Task Force reportExploring Fundamental Change, a Supreme Court evaluation found that Rule 66 was not successful in fully achieving its objectives. Further evaluation of economical litigation alternatives led to the implementation of the Rule 68 Expedited Litigation Project.

Permanent implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
1998 Fast Track procedure implemented in Vancouver, New Westminster and Kamloops as a pilot project
2002 Rule 66 took effect province-wide.
July 1, 2010 Projected implementation of new Rules, replacing Rule 66
1998 BC Parenting After Separation Program

British Columbia

Ministry of Attorney General

Provincial Court

Two evaluations of the PAS program were conducted. A partial evaluation was completed in August 1999, and the final evaluation was released in October 2000. The first evaluation assessed the first two objectives of the program: 1) the extent of cooperation and willingness to participate in the PAS program by clients, and 2) participant satisfaction with the program. The final evaluation report assessed the third objective of the program: "To determine the impact of MPAS on litigation rates in the pilot jurisdiction compared to the impact of offering Parenting After Separation (PAS) on a voluntary basis." (Evaluation at 2)

BC Ministry of Attorney General program requiring families with disputes about child custody, access, guardianship or child support to attend a specialized class before appearing in court.

The PAS program is free to BC parents and other family members or guardians facing access, custody, guardianship, and support issues. The class is three hours long and focuses on encouraging families to make decisions that take into consideration the best interest of their children.

The PAS program aims to provide parents with information on the following:

  • How children deal with separation and how parents could provide support.
  • How parents experience the separation process.
  • How to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship.
  • How to address safety issues which may arise.
  • What options are available to aid the decision making process.
  • How to use mediation and conciliation services.
  • Where to get further information and help.

A workbook is also provided which contains further details on the above topics. It also contains opportunities for self-reflection through a series of worksheets to help plan the next steps.

The program is in effect in Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George, Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo and Kamloops.

The Parenting After Separation (PAS) program began as a pilot project at four locations in 1994. Initially, the program was voluntary. In 1998, a pilot project was launched in the Burnaby and New Westminster provincial courts requiring families with disputes about child custody, access, guardianship or child support to attend PAS before appearing in court. As a result of an evaluation report, PAS was expanded to a number of other locations between 1999 and 2000. The expansion saw PAS shift from strictly voluntary to mandatory for certain types of disputes. The requirement to attend a PAS session is described in Rule 21 of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules. In October 2000, the Ministry of Attorney General published a final evaluation report on Mandatory Parenting After Separation (MPAS). The project was generally deemed to have a positive impact on families and the efficient resolution of cases. In 1998, some Lower Mainland communities began to offer PAS sessions in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and/or Hindi.

The August 1999 program concluded that:

[Survey Participants] reported that the PAS session helped them to understand the separation process and how to resolve disputes without going to court. It also helped them to focus on their children's needs. Most said they learned for the first time how the court decides on child support issues, how communication skills can help reduce conflict between people, and what services are provided by family justice counsellors.

Of the participants who completed the survey:

  • Seventy-eight per cent reported they were very or somewhat satisfied with the session they attended
  • Eighty-six per cent said they would recommend the session to other separating or divorcing parents
  • Eighty-three per cent agreed that all parents or guardians going through a separation or divorce should have to attend a PAS session.
Bulletin.

The Final Evaluation included an analysis of the program both before and after the provincial court rule changes which mandated PAS. The results were fairly similar, however, by making the program mandatory, the positive impact of PAS was more marked. Generally, the report found that MPAS resulted in a reduction and improvement in caseflow at the family court. There was also increased awareness of alternative dispute resolution options and the impact of separation on their children.

Permanent implementation

  • British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General
  • education
  • family law
  • litigants
  • mandatory programs
  • pre-trial procedure
  • Provincial Court of British Columbia
1994 Voluntary PAS program offered at 4 locations
1998 Mandatory PAS program pilot project in Burnaby and New Westminster
1999 - 2000 Mandatory PAS program was expanded to other locations in BC
1998 BC Small Claims Court Mediation Program (Rule 7.2)

British Columbia

BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society

Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court rule of court establishing a mediation program.

CMP operates in five Small Claims registries: Nanaimo, Surrey, North Vancouver, Victoria and Robson Square, Vancouver (but only in respect of a disputed claim for which the notice of claim that started the proceeding was filed at Robson Square before November 26, 2007).
 

Referrals

Under the Practice Direction that preceded the Rule, referrals to the CMP came from four sources:

  • voluntary election by the parties;
  • referral by a judge at a settlement conference;
  • mandatory referral of all construction cases; and
  • mandatory referral by date of reply.

Referrals to mediation differ by each registry but there is an overall referral rate of 25% of the total caseload from the CMP registries.
 

Outcomes

Preliminary numbers from a UBC study show that settlement rates for the four registries for mandatory mediations are 56%. For voluntary mediations settlement rates are 67%. Average satisfaction with the conduct of the mediation is 4.32 on a 5 point scale; 91% of participants indicate that they would use mediation again.
 

Small Claims Rule 7.2

On April 28, 2003, a new Small Claims Rule replaced the practice direction, bringing greater clarity to the mediation process. It will also help integrate mediation with the work of the Court and the Registry.

The new rule reflects many aspects of the practice direction which has been in place since the inception of the Program. However, there are some significant additions to the rule. These include provisions setting out the consequences of not attending a mediation, as well as enforcement and confidentiality provisions...

[T]he mediation rule applies to the following disputed claims:

  • Claims that fall within a class of cases described in Schedule D - Schedule D currently includes construction cases and a specified number of cases from each registry by date of reply.
  • Claims referred to mediation from a settlement conference, with the consent of the parties.
  • Claims for which a Notice to Mediate has been filed with the registry.

Schedule E describes classes of cases to which the rule does not apply and includes claims arising from a motor vehicle accident.

When a case is referred to mediation, the mediation coordinator will send a Notice of Mediation Session to each of the parties. Parties may apply to a judge for an exemption from the requirement to attend the mediation. The consequences of not attending a mediation session are similar to those for not attending a settlement conference.

When parties reach full or partial agreement, they must file an agreement form. The agreements are drafted by the mediators and signed by the parties at the mediation. If the parties do not reach agreement on all issues, the registry sets a date for settlement conference. The Rule includes enforcement mechanisms.

Website

The Court Mediation Program (CMP) was established in 1998. The process was initially governed by a Practice Directive, which was replaced on April 28, 2003 by the new Small Claims Rule 7.2, Mediation for Claims up to $10,000. The program is funded by Ministry of Attorney General and administered by BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society.

Permanent Implementation

  • British Columbia Small Claims Court
  • mediation
  • rules of court
1998 CMP established
April 2003 Practice Directive replaced by Rule 7.2
1998 Prince Edward Island Simplified Procedure (Rule 75.1)

Prince Edward Island

Rules Committee

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island (Trial Division)

Rule establishing mandatory simplified procedure for actions of up to $25 000 in Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island.

PEI's simplified procedure rules reduce some of the steps typically required in the general procedure, such as discovery. These measures save costs for litigants and consequently make the courts accessible. The following is a description of some of the requirements stipulated in Rule 75.1:

  • For an action to qualify under the simplified procedure rules, a plaintiff's claim must be exclusively for money, real property, or personal property, and the amount claimed should be equivalent to $25,000 or less.
  • Within 30 days of the close of pleadings, a party to an action must disclose all relevant documents to all other parties. This disclosure also includes the names of any witnesses (including experts) or potential witnesses, and a summary of their evidence. Failure to disclose will result in the evidence being excluded from trial.
  • The following are not permitted in under Rule 75.1: Examination for discovery under Rule 31.03 or 31.10; Examination for discovery by written questions and answers under Rule 35; Cross-examination of a deponent on an affidavit under Rule 39.02; Examination of a witness on a motion under Rule 39.03.
  • Rule 75.1 allows the dismissal of cases where if more than 180 days have elapsed since the day of the originating process; no statement of defence has been filed; the action has not been disposed of by final order or judgement; the action has not been set down for trial or summary trial; and the registrar has given 45 days notice that the action will be dismissed as abandoned.
  • A case may also be dismissed if more than 150 days have passed since the filing of the first statement of defence or notice of intent to defend; the action has not been disposed of by final order or judgement; the action has not been set down for trial or summary trial; and the registrar has given 45 days notice that the action will be dismissed as abandoned.
  • Settlement Discussions (R. 75.1.08) are required within 60 days after the filing of the first statement of defence or notice of intent to defend. The parties meet to discuss whether all documents relating to any matter at issue have been disclosed; and settlement of any or all issues is possible.
  • After the close of pleadings, a party may move before a judge with supporting affidavit material for summary judgement (R. 75.1.07(1)).
  • All parties must attend the pre-trial conference which can be conducted in person, or through video conferencing if an undue amount of travel is required. Before the pre-trial conference all relevant documents must be filed and delivered. At the pre-trial conference, the parties must agree on whether the trial should be a regular trial or summary trial. If they cannot agree, the judge will determine the mode of trial. The judge will also set the timetable for the delivery of affidavits.
  • At a summary trial, evidence is given by affidavit. Parties adverse in interest may cross-examine the deponents of the affidavits, followed by a re-examination of up to 10 minutes. Oral arguments are limited to 45 minutes.
  • Rule 75.1 provides for cost awards if a party fails to adhere to the rules.

Other Considerations

It is the procedure under Rule 75.1 which is meant to be simple - not the issues in the cases. The procedure is available for any action, except those referred to in Rule 75.1.01(1)...

The threshold test for granting summary judgment in an action brought under the Simplified Procedure Rule is much lower than the threshold test for obtaining summary judgment under Rule 20. If the court is satisfied there is sufficient material on which to resolve that issue on the motion, the court may grant summary judgment under Rule 75.1.07, notwithstanding there may be a genuine issue for trial.

Annotated Rule at 11

The Supreme Court of P.E.I. adopted the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure in 1990. A substantial number of written decisions has been given by the Court addressing issues of interpretation and application of the Rules.

Rule 75.1 is modelled on r.76 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure. There are two major differences between PEI's Rule 75.1 and Ontario's Rule 76:

  • In Ontario, simplified procedure is mandatory in qualifying cases worth $50,000 or less, exclusive of interest and costs; whereas, in PEI's Rule, the mandatory limit is $25,000.
  • PEI's Rule 75.1.03(2) requires the production of witness "will say" statements; whereas the corresponding Ontario Rule 76.03(2) does not.

Permanent implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • mandatory programs
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island (Trial Division)
1998 Simplified Procedure rule introduced
2001, 2003, 2004 Amendments made
1998 Québec Civil Procedure Review

Quebec

Quebec Minister of Justice

All Quebec Courts

The process of reforming the civil procedure continued after the above mentioned changes. In August 2002, public hearings were held on the departmental proposals contained in the report entitled Mesures visant à instituer un nouveau Code de procédure civile et comportant une proposition quant aux deux premiers livres de ce code.

The legislation implementing the 2003 amendments included the requirement for an assessment of the effects of the reform three years after its coming into force. Justice Department officials met with the Chief Justices, senior regional judges, and representatives of the Bar. A report titled Rapport d'évaluation de la Loi portant réforme du Code de procedure civile was released in April 2006.

Overview of the review of Quebec's Code of Civil Procedure recommended comprehensive reforms.

In July 2001, the Comité de révision de la procédure civile released a report entitled La révision de la procédure civile : Une nouvelle culture judiciaire. The report proposed a comprehensive reform of Quebec's Code of Civil Procedure aimed at meeting the following objectives:

  • respect of human rights,
  • empowerment of parties,
  • increased intervention of judges,
  • proportionality of proceedings, and
  • openness to information technologies.

A year after the report, the Minister of Justice tabled a bill to reform the Code of Civil Procedure and implement its recommendations. The National Assembly passed the Bill into law in June 2002. The changes introduced by the bill targeted areas such as the institution of proceedings, proceedings in appeal, recovery of small claims, and class action suits.

Specific recommendations and reforms made as part of this process are listed below, under Related Reforms.

The Quebec Code of Civil Procedure was not revised since 1965. As a result, the Minister of Justice in June 1998 created a committee to assess civil procedure reforms.
 

The numerous procedural innovations that have been integrated into the Code over the years seem to have been deposited like layers of sediment, making civil procedure more complex and defeating the ultimate goal of simplifying it. In 1998, the Minister of Justice established a committee to review the Code with a mandate to propose new procedure to make civil justice speedier, more efficient, less adversarial, and less expensive in time, energy and cost for both litigants and the justice system itself.

Longtin at 2.
 
longtin-en.pdf

Permanent implementation

  • Québec Courts
  • reform
  • rules of court
June 1998 Comité de révision de la procédure civile established with a mandate to reform civil procedure.
July 2001 Committee's Report released.
June 2002 Minister of Justice introduced bill to reform Quebec's Code of Civil Procedure
1 January 2003 New Code came into force
2006 Evaluation Report released.

 

1999 Alberta Discovery Amendments - Cost of Justice

Alberta

Rules of Court Committee

Court of Queen's Bench

Overview of amendments to Alberta's Queen's Bench Rules of Court governing discovery process and procedures affecting the cost of justice, 1999-2008.

  • Rule 187: Introduced in 1999, this rule requires third parties and responding parties to file their affidavit of records within 90 days of their filing of a statement of defence. The rule also places other time limits for the purpose of reducing delays and limiting the discovery process.
  • Rule 188.1: Grants the court discretion with the specified timelines so that depending on the complexity of the case, courts may adjust the rules permitting late or earlier filing of affidavits.
  • Rule 189: Requires that an affidavit of records precede discovery, with the idea that increased disclosure will allow the process to proceed much more efficiently.
  • Rule 190: If a party fails to adhere to the timeline restrictions, costs will be awarded to the other party adversely affected by the delay. Rule 190.1 allows for sanctions other than costs being awarded.
  • Rule 200(1.2): A person is only required to answer "relevant and material questions". The most important change in the 1999 amendment to this rule was limiting the scope of questioning permissible at an examination for discovery. The old rule limited discovery questions to those "touching the matters in question". The new rule requires a witness to "answer only relevant and material questions" creating a narrower scope for questions.
  • Rule 200(2) - The court may on application limit the number of employees of any party who may be examined, and may set aside any examination the court decides is unnecessary, improper, or vexatious.
  • Rule 205: All records which a party could be required to produce at trial must be produced at the examination for discovery. This rule was introduced in 1999 to increase disclosure and reduce surprises at trial.
  • Rule 662 - Streamlined Procedure: 662(1) and (5) - Limits examinations for discovery to 6 hours, allows for written interrogatories in place of oral testimony with a limit of a 1000 words.
  • Court of Queen's Bench Family Law Practice Note No. 6: Notice to Reply to Written Interrogatories: The purpose of this Practice Note is to avoid or reduce the need for examination for discoveries through the exchange of information in writing. ThePractice Note introduces a new form titled Notice to Reply to Written Interrogatories. This form allows for a maximum of 30 questions.

The 1999 amendments were the result of the recommendations of a joint Bench-Bar committee. Subsequently, these recommendations were adopted by the Rules of Court Committee. The Law Society issued a memorandum after the rules came into force stating overall satisfaction, but had some concerns. Some of these concerns were addressed and amended. Other concerns were more complex. 

As a result, the Alberta Law Reform Institute began to examine the discovery process as part of its Alberta Rules of Court Project. It released two reports specifically addressing discovery issues. Substantially revised discovery rules were released in March 2007. Since then, the new rules of court have been subject to some review and adjustment. The final Proposed Rules of Court were released in October 2008.

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
  • cost of justice
  • discovery
  • reform
  • rules of court
1999 Amendments came into effect
2002 Discovery Memo 1 released
2002 Discovery Memo 2 released
2007 Draft Rules released
2008 "Proposed Rules of Court" released
1999 Ontario Family Law Information Centres

Ontario

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General

All Ontario courts

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General courthouse family law information centres, offering information, limited legal advice, and other assistance to self-represented litigants.

All court locations have a Family Law Information Centre (FLIC). A FLIC is an area in the court house where you can get free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters. It is a good idea to get this information before making important decisions.

Guide at 2
The following services are available at the FLIC:

  • Court staff will provide information about the family court; court process; court forms; guides to procedure and how to get a lawyer
  • An Advice Lawyer (from Legal Aid Ontario) will provide 20 minutes of general legal information on family law matters free of charge regardless of eligibility, or case-specific advice to those who qualify financially
  • An Information Referral Coordinator (IRC) will provide information about family mediation; effects of separation and divorce on children; register the parties for free parent information sessions and make referrals to community services. (IRC service is available only at Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations [previously known as the Unified Family Court])

The following resource materials are available:

  • Pamphlets and other publications on issues related to separation and divorce and child protection matters;
  • Court forms and Guides to Procedure;
  • Information on community resources; and
  • Referrals to the court-connected family mediation services.*

*In Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations only.

Website

Family Law Information Centres were established in 17 unified family court sites in 1999. They were expanded over the next five years to all court locations.

98% respondents to a 2001 survey rated FLIC services as "very helpful" or "satisfactory." (Business Plan)

Permanent implementation

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • legal services
  • Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • self-represented litigants
1999 FLICs established in 17 unified family court sites
1999-2004 FLICs expanded to all court locations
1999 Ontario Family Law Information Centres

Ontario

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General

All Ontario courts

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General courthouse family law information centres, offering information, limited legal advice, and other assistance to self-represented litigants.

All court locations have a Family Law Information Centre (FLIC). A FLIC is an area in the court house where you can get free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters. It is a good idea to get this information before making important decisions.

Guide at 2
The following services are available at the FLIC:

  • Court staff will provide information about the family court; court process; court forms; guides to procedure and how to get a lawyer
  • An Advice Lawyer (from Legal Aid Ontario) will provide 20 minutes of general legal information on family law matters free of charge regardless of eligibility, or case-specific advice to those who qualify financially
  • An Information Referral Coordinator (IRC) will provide information about family mediation; effects of separation and divorce on children; register the parties for free parent information sessions and make referrals to community services. (IRC service is available only at Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations [previously known as the Unified Family Court])

The following resource materials are available:

  • Pamphlets and other publications on issues related to separation and divorce and child protection matters;
  • Court forms and Guides to Procedure;
  • Information on community resources; and
  • Referrals to the court-connected family mediation services.*

*In Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations only.

Website

Family Law Information Centres were established in 17 unified family court sites in 1999. They were expanded over the next five years to all court locations.

98% respondents to a 2001 survey rated FLIC services as "very helpful" or "satisfactory." (Business Plan)

Permanent implementation

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • legal services
  • Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • self-represented litigants
1999 FLICs established in 17 unified family court sites
1999-2004 FLICs expanded to all court locations
2001 Alberta Intake and Caseflow Management

Alberta

Alberta Justice

Provincial Court

Alberta Justice project providing caseflow management to self-represented litigants dealing with matters related to parenting, contact and guardianship disputes in Provincial Court.

The project helps litigants deal with matters related to parenting, and contact and guardianship disputes but does not include disputes related to child support.

Litigants without legal representation meet with an intake counsellor to assess their case. Then they attend a caseflow conference with a coordinator and the other party. The intake counsellor and coordinator explore options with the litigants, facilitate resolutions and make referrals where required. Litigants are also given information on mediation and judicial dispute resolution in an effort to resolve the matter outside of court. The conferences are an attempt to gain consensus on as many issues as possible, and sometimes agreements are struck by the parties at this stage. If the parties resolve their matter, the coordinators can then prepare consent des

k orders for a judge to sign without a trial date. The coordinators have clerk of the court designations, so parties do not have to go to the Law Courts building to file their applications.
 

If the matter proceeds to court, the caseflow coordinator or family court workers will ensure that the parties are ready and that they understand the court procedures. The family court workers also help prepare court applications and attend court and judicial dispute resolution hearings with the parties. This will save time for the court and the parties by reducing the number of unnecessary adjournments.

Just-in.

The program began with a pilot project in Edmonton with the enactment of the Intake and Caseflow Management Rules (Alta. Reg. 163/2001). This was replaced in 2005 with the Intake and Caseflow Management Regulation (Alta. Reg. 150/2005). The program was expanded to Calgary based on its success in Edmonton. (Family Justice Newsletter)

Implemented in Edmonton and Calgary

  • Alberta Justice
  • assessment
  • case planning
  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • Provincial Court of Alberta
  • self-represented litigants
2001 Pilot Project launched in Edmonton
2005 Permanent implementation
2006 Expanded to Calgary
2001 Alberta Rules of Court Project

Alberta

Alberta Law Reform Institute

  • Court of Queen's Bench
  • Court of Appeal

The Alberta Law Reform Institute's multi-year review of the Alberta Rules of Court, producing reform recommendations to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules.

The first stage of the Project was to collect feedback on the Rules. A survey was conducted rating the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of respondents with different areas of the Rules. The areas with the highest dissatisfaction ratings were:

  • 1) cost of legal fees,
  • 2) time to resolve a legal case, and
  • 3) the overall legal process.

Areas with medium dissatisfaction were:

  • 1) court forms,
  • 2) information available through the court,
  • 3) ease of understanding the legal process,
  • 4) the trial,
  • 5) the discovery stage, and
  • 6) interlocutory hearings.

Working Committees were established to examine particular subject areas. They produced published consultation memoranda on topics such as Self-Represented Litigants, Costs and Sanctions, Discovery and Evidence Issues, Judicial Review, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. 

These reports were used to prepare the Draft Rules, released in March 2007. Consultations on the new rules was undertaken and feedback from the Rules of Court Committee was incorporated into the rules, resulting in the Final Report and Proposed Rules, released in October 2008. ALRI has proposed an amendment to Alberta's Judicature Act to set out a clear process for adopting and revising Rules of Court.

 

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. The legal community and the public have raised concerns regarding the timeliness, affordability, and comprehensibility of the Rules. As a result, it was agreed that the rules would be rewritten, with the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) assigned to manage the project. The Rules of Court project is a multi-year project charged with reviewing the Alberta Rules of Court and assessing potential reforms. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible. 

The Project is funded by the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI), the Alberta Department of Justice, the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Law Foundation, and is managed by ALRI. In pursuit of this goal, ALRI has sought the input of the legal community to define the direction of the reforms.

Proposed Rules were implemented on November 1, 2010

  • law reform institutes
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
January - September 2002 Public consultation
September 2002 Public Consultation Report released
2002 - 2007 Various consultation memoranda released
March 2007 Draft Rules released
October 2008 Final Report and Proposed Rulesreleased.
1 November 2010 Planned implementation date
2001 Alberta Rules of Court Project

Alberta

Alberta Law Reform Institute

  • Court of Queen's Bench
  • Court of Appeal

The Alberta Law Reform Institute's multi-year review of the Alberta Rules of Court, producing reform recommendations to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules.

The first stage of the Project was to collect feedback on the Rules. A survey was conducted rating the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of respondents with different areas of the Rules. The areas with the highest dissatisfaction ratings were:

  • 1) cost of legal fees,
  • 2) time to resolve a legal case, and
  • 3) the overall legal process.

Areas with medium dissatisfaction were:

  • 1) court forms,
  • 2) information available through the court,
  • 3) ease of understanding the legal process,
  • 4) the trial,
  • 5) the discovery stage, and
  • 6) interlocutory hearings.

Working Committees were established to examine particular subject areas. They produced published consultation memoranda on topics such as Self-Represented Litigants, Costs and Sanctions, Discovery and Evidence Issues, Judicial Review, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. 

These reports were used to prepare the Draft Rules, released in March 2007. Consultations on the new rules was undertaken and feedback from the Rules of Court Committee was incorporated into the rules, resulting in the Final Report and Proposed Rules, released in October 2008. ALRI has proposed an amendment to Alberta's Judicature Act to set out a clear process for adopting and revising Rules of Court.

 

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. The legal community and the public have raised concerns regarding the timeliness, affordability, and comprehensibility of the Rules. As a result, it was agreed that the rules would be rewritten, with the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) assigned to manage the project. The Rules of Court project is a multi-year project charged with reviewing the Alberta Rules of Court and assessing potential reforms. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible. 

The Project is funded by the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI), the Alberta Department of Justice, the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Law Foundation, and is managed by ALRI. In pursuit of this goal, ALRI has sought the input of the legal community to define the direction of the reforms.

Proposed Rules were implemented on November 1, 2010

  • law reform institutes
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
January - September 2002 Public consultation
September 2002 Public Consultation Report released
2002 - 2007 Various consultation memoranda released
March 2007 Draft Rules released
October 2008 Final Report and Proposed Rulesreleased.
1 November 2010 Planned implementation date
2001 Alberta Rules of Court Project

Alberta

Alberta Law Reform Institute

  • Court of Queen's Bench
  • Court of Appeal

The Alberta Law Reform Institute's multi-year review of the Alberta Rules of Court, producing reform recommendations to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules.

The first stage of the Project was to collect feedback on the Rules. A survey was conducted rating the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of respondents with different areas of the Rules. The areas with the highest dissatisfaction ratings were:

  • 1) cost of legal fees,
  • 2) time to resolve a legal case, and
  • 3) the overall legal process.

Areas with medium dissatisfaction were:

  • 1) court forms,
  • 2) information available through the court,
  • 3) ease of understanding the legal process,
  • 4) the trial,
  • 5) the discovery stage, and
  • 6) interlocutory hearings.

Working Committees were established to examine particular subject areas. They produced published consultation memoranda on topics such as Self-Represented Litigants, Costs and Sanctions, Discovery and Evidence Issues, Judicial Review, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. 

These reports were used to prepare the Draft Rules, released in March 2007. Consultations on the new rules was undertaken and feedback from the Rules of Court Committee was incorporated into the rules, resulting in the Final Report and Proposed Rules, released in October 2008. ALRI has proposed an amendment to Alberta's Judicature Act to set out a clear process for adopting and revising Rules of Court.

 

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. The legal community and the public have raised concerns regarding the timeliness, affordability, and comprehensibility of the Rules. As a result, it was agreed that the rules would be rewritten, with the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) assigned to manage the project. The Rules of Court project is a multi-year project charged with reviewing the Alberta Rules of Court and assessing potential reforms. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible. 

The Project is funded by the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI), the Alberta Department of Justice, the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Law Foundation, and is managed by ALRI. In pursuit of this goal, ALRI has sought the input of the legal community to define the direction of the reforms.

Proposed Rules were implemented on November 1, 2010

  • law reform institutes
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
January - September 2002 Public consultation
September 2002 Public Consultation Report released
2002 - 2007 Various consultation memoranda released
March 2007 Draft Rules released
October 2008 Final Report and Proposed Rulesreleased.
1 November 2010 Planned implementation date
2001 Alberta Rules of Court Project

Alberta

Alberta Law Reform Institute

  • Court of Queen's Bench
  • Court of Appeal

The Alberta Law Reform Institute's multi-year review of the Alberta Rules of Court, producing reform recommendations to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules.

The first stage of the Project was to collect feedback on the Rules. A survey was conducted rating the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of respondents with different areas of the Rules. The areas with the highest dissatisfaction ratings were:

  • 1) cost of legal fees,
  • 2) time to resolve a legal case, and
  • 3) the overall legal process.

Areas with medium dissatisfaction were:

  • 1) court forms,
  • 2) information available through the court,
  • 3) ease of understanding the legal process,
  • 4) the trial,
  • 5) the discovery stage, and
  • 6) interlocutory hearings.

Working Committees were established to examine particular subject areas. They produced published consultation memoranda on topics such as Self-Represented Litigants, Costs and Sanctions, Discovery and Evidence Issues, Judicial Review, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. 

These reports were used to prepare the Draft Rules, released in March 2007. Consultations on the new rules was undertaken and feedback from the Rules of Court Committee was incorporated into the rules, resulting in the Final Report and Proposed Rules, released in October 2008. ALRI has proposed an amendment to Alberta's Judicature Act to set out a clear process for adopting and revising Rules of Court.

 

Other than various amendments, the Alberta Rules of Court have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were written in 1968. The legal community and the public have raised concerns regarding the timeliness, affordability, and comprehensibility of the Rules. As a result, it was agreed that the rules would be rewritten, with the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) assigned to manage the project. The Rules of Court project is a multi-year project charged with reviewing the Alberta Rules of Court and assessing potential reforms. The objective of the Project is to increase the clarity, usability, and effectiveness of the Rules in to make them more accessible. 

The Project is funded by the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI), the Alberta Department of Justice, the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Law Foundation, and is managed by ALRI. In pursuit of this goal, ALRI has sought the input of the legal community to define the direction of the reforms.

Proposed Rules were implemented on November 1, 2010

  • law reform institutes
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
2001 Consultations on Alberta Rules of Court Reforms commenced
January - September 2002 Public consultation
September 2002 Public Consultation Report released
2002 - 2007 Various consultation memoranda released
March 2007 Draft Rules released
October 2008 Final Report and Proposed Rulesreleased.
1 November 2010 Planned implementation date
2001 BC Streamlined Chambers Process (Rule 51A)

British Columbia

Supreme Court of British Columbia

BC Supreme Court rule, and proposed replacement, that requires an exchange of materials in advance of chambers applications.

Rule 51A (Setting Down Applications for Hearing)

"The rule establishe[s] a process for setting down matters in chambers and requiring the exchange of materials in advance of the hearing which serve to focus the legal and factual basis of the application and the position of the party in response" (Access to Justice at 10).
 

Proposed Rule 14-1

The proposed new Rules of Civil Procedure incorporate Rule 51A as Rule 14-1. The new Rule significantly simplifies the procedures currently set out in Rule 51A, which "should serve to somewhat decrease current barriers faced by self-represented litigants in accessing the Supreme Court" (LSS Submission at 9).

 

Rule 51A, governing originating and interlocutory applications in chambers, came into force on July 1, 2001. It is a province-wide extension of the former Rule 65, the Chambers Pilot Project in the Vancouver registry. Rule 51A incorporates a number of suggestions that were made by the bar based on the pilot.

Chief Justice Justice Brenner in his discussion of Rule 51A shortly after its implementation, reported that:

as soon as the new rule became effective we saw a marked decrease in the volume of chambers applications. This mirrored our experience with the pilot project in Vancouver. We believe this decrease is caused by the earlier communication that now takes place between the parties or their counsel. As a result many matters are now resolved without the necessity of an actual attendance at court.

2001 Report at 20

In 2006, speaking of Rule 51A, Madam Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg of the B.C. Supreme Court stated that:
 

The implementation of this process has had the effect of reducing the number of matters that proceed in chambers and ensuring that those applications which do proceed are well prepared and that hearing time estimates are reliable. Whereas in the past, the Vancouver registry would have to schedule two chambers courtrooms daily, each with long lists that would tend to collapse on the day of hearing, now only one chambers courtroom is scheduled, with fewer, and more well prepared matters proceeding as scheduled.

Rule 51A has had its detractors who say that the structure of the process has rendered preparing for a chambers hearing more expensive. However, against that it must be acknowledged that a great deal of counsel time with corresponding cost to litigants was formerly wasted in lawyers attending and waiting through long lists in chambers before being heard. The theory behind Rule 51A and the need for such a structure is nearly universally acknowledged. Some tweaking of the procedures and notice periods in the rule could assist in disarming detractors.

Access to Justice at 10-11
 

Permanent Implementation

  • chambers hearings
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
July 1, 2001 Rule 51A came into force province-wide
July 2007 Draft Rules released
July 1, 2010 Projected implementation of new rules
2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Court Ordered Mediation (Rule 37A)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court Trial Division Rule's Committee

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)

Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court allowing court-ordered mandatory mediation in civil (non-family) cases.

Rule 37A envisions the mediation process as one "of discussion between parties...under the direction of neutral third party...to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution" (r. 37A.01(b)). 

Although the Rule contemplates "interest-based" mediation, the "procedure and methodology to be followed...may vary according to the particular style and approach of the mediator" (r. 37A.05(7)).

The Court, on the application of a party or on its own motion at any time following the filing of a defence, may order the parties to participate in mediation (r. 37A.03(1)). 

Unless otherwise ordered, the mediation must commence within 24 days of the date of such order, it should last no longer than four hours in total and the costs thereof are born equally by the parties (r. 37A.03(3)). All further proceedings are stayed until the mediator's report is filed (r. 37A.03(6)).

Once the mediation has been scheduled, the parties are required to provide the mediator and each other party with a brief statement of factual and legal issues in dispute, a summary of that party's interests and copies of all documents considered of central importance in the proceeding at least seven days before the session (r. 37A.05(2)). The mediator is required to file a mediation report within 10 days after the mediation is concluded indicating whether agreement has been reached (r. 37A.07(1)).

If an agreement has been reached at the mediation, the parties have to file a Memorandum of Settlement pursuant to r. 39.06. Otherwise, the case proceeds in the normal course
 

Concerns raised regarding Rule 37A

  • Rule 37A.03(c) contemplates that the costs of mediation are to be borne equally by the parties. This is troublesome because many litigates, in particular personal injury plaintiffs, may not have the financial resources to contribute to the costs of mediation.
  • Although the rule contemplates the establishment of the list of mediators, the rule does not set out the eligibility criteria for the persons to be placed on the list.
    CBA News at 11
  • Rule 37A.03(5) and .05(5) both contemplate additional parties attending the mediation, and in .05(5), specifically insurers. A concern has been raised that this may give such parties the opportunity to frustrate the process for their own needs. (CBA News at 11).

Rule 37A, governing Court Ordered Mediation, came into force on April 1, 2003. It applies to all non-family law civil cases.

In practice, the rule is infrequently used. Most matters in civil litigation in Newfoundland and Labrador which go to mediation go there by the desire and consent of both parties, thereby circumventing the need to make application to do so.

Permanent Implementation

  • mandatory programs
  • mediation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)
Date Event
2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Court Ordered Mediation (Rule 37A)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court Trial Division Rule's Committee

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)

Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court allowing court-ordered mandatory mediation in civil (non-family) cases.

Rule 37A envisions the mediation process as one "of discussion between parties...under the direction of neutral third party...to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution" (r. 37A.01(b)). 

Although the Rule contemplates "interest-based" mediation, the "procedure and methodology to be followed...may vary according to the particular style and approach of the mediator" (r. 37A.05(7)).

The Court, on the application of a party or on its own motion at any time following the filing of a defence, may order the parties to participate in mediation (r. 37A.03(1)). 

Unless otherwise ordered, the mediation must commence within 24 days of the date of such order, it should last no longer than four hours in total and the costs thereof are born equally by the parties (r. 37A.03(3)). All further proceedings are stayed until the mediator's report is filed (r. 37A.03(6)).

Once the mediation has been scheduled, the parties are required to provide the mediator and each other party with a brief statement of factual and legal issues in dispute, a summary of that party's interests and copies of all documents considered of central importance in the proceeding at least seven days before the session (r. 37A.05(2)). The mediator is required to file a mediation report within 10 days after the mediation is concluded indicating whether agreement has been reached (r. 37A.07(1)).

If an agreement has been reached at the mediation, the parties have to file a Memorandum of Settlement pursuant to r. 39.06. Otherwise, the case proceeds in the normal course
 

Concerns raised regarding Rule 37A

  • Rule 37A.03(c) contemplates that the costs of mediation are to be borne equally by the parties. This is troublesome because many litigates, in particular personal injury plaintiffs, may not have the financial resources to contribute to the costs of mediation.
  • Although the rule contemplates the establishment of the list of mediators, the rule does not set out the eligibility criteria for the persons to be placed on the list.
    CBA News at 11
  • Rule 37A.03(5) and .05(5) both contemplate additional parties attending the mediation, and in .05(5), specifically insurers. A concern has been raised that this may give such parties the opportunity to frustrate the process for their own needs. (CBA News at 11).

Rule 37A, governing Court Ordered Mediation, came into force on April 1, 2003. It applies to all non-family law civil cases.

In practice, the rule is infrequently used. Most matters in civil litigation in Newfoundland and Labrador which go to mediation go there by the desire and consent of both parties, thereby circumventing the need to make application to do so.

Permanent Implementation

  • mandatory programs
  • mediation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)
Date Event
2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Court Ordered Mediation (Rule 37A)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court Trial Division Rule's Committee

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)

Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court allowing court-ordered mandatory mediation in civil (non-family) cases.

Rule 37A envisions the mediation process as one "of discussion between parties...under the direction of neutral third party...to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution" (r. 37A.01(b)). 

Although the Rule contemplates "interest-based" mediation, the "procedure and methodology to be followed...may vary according to the particular style and approach of the mediator" (r. 37A.05(7)).

The Court, on the application of a party or on its own motion at any time following the filing of a defence, may order the parties to participate in mediation (r. 37A.03(1)). 

Unless otherwise ordered, the mediation must commence within 24 days of the date of such order, it should last no longer than four hours in total and the costs thereof are born equally by the parties (r. 37A.03(3)). All further proceedings are stayed until the mediator's report is filed (r. 37A.03(6)).

Once the mediation has been scheduled, the parties are required to provide the mediator and each other party with a brief statement of factual and legal issues in dispute, a summary of that party's interests and copies of all documents considered of central importance in the proceeding at least seven days before the session (r. 37A.05(2)). The mediator is required to file a mediation report within 10 days after the mediation is concluded indicating whether agreement has been reached (r. 37A.07(1)).

If an agreement has been reached at the mediation, the parties have to file a Memorandum of Settlement pursuant to r. 39.06. Otherwise, the case proceeds in the normal course
 

Concerns raised regarding Rule 37A

  • Rule 37A.03(c) contemplates that the costs of mediation are to be borne equally by the parties. This is troublesome because many litigates, in particular personal injury plaintiffs, may not have the financial resources to contribute to the costs of mediation.
  • Although the rule contemplates the establishment of the list of mediators, the rule does not set out the eligibility criteria for the persons to be placed on the list.
    CBA News at 11
  • Rule 37A.03(5) and .05(5) both contemplate additional parties attending the mediation, and in .05(5), specifically insurers. A concern has been raised that this may give such parties the opportunity to frustrate the process for their own needs. (CBA News at 11).

Rule 37A, governing Court Ordered Mediation, came into force on April 1, 2003. It applies to all non-family law civil cases.

In practice, the rule is infrequently used. Most matters in civil litigation in Newfoundland and Labrador which go to mediation go there by the desire and consent of both parties, thereby circumventing the need to make application to do so.

Permanent Implementation

  • mandatory programs
  • mediation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)
Date Event
2003 Nova Scotia Summary Advice Counsel (SAC)

Nova Scotia 

Nova Scotia Legal Aid

Family Court Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Legal Aid Summary Advice Counsel provide summary legal advice, primarily to self-represented litigants, on family law matters.

In October 2003 a pilot project was initiated in metropolitan Halifax (Devonshire Court location) whereby summary legal advice was to be provided under the direction of Nova Scotia Legal Aid in the Family Division of the Supreme Court...In April 2004 the service was established at the Family Division in Sydney (Sydney Justice Centre location) whereby the counsel was under secondment to Court Services from Nova Scotia Legal Aid. In this initiative special funding was secured for two years from the Department of Justice Canada in response to a proposal jointly submitted by NSLA and Court Service Nova Scotia...

While the two projects differ in terms of funding arrangements and organization context for the SAC role, in each case, counsel provides legal advice with respect to the Maintenance and Custody Act, the 'Divorce Act', the Matrimonial Property Act, pension legislation and so forth.

The report summarizing the findings of the assessment contained the following conclusions:
 

There is little question but that the SAC service has met with much favour by stakeholders of all stripes as well as by virtually all its client users. All the stakeholders in the court system, and outside it, who knew much about SAC considered it a valuable addition to the Family Court. Those who knew little became quite enthusiastic when informed about how the SAC service works. The SAC role has been implemented as intended as free, summary-level, legal advice accessible to all persons otherwise unrepresented. Its defining features (short sessions, FPP, no courtroom presence, focus on legal concerns) have indeed characterized its implementation. It has realized its central objective of assisting the unrepresented as witness its penetration rate and the views of clients as well as conciliators and judges and, for many, if not most, clients it has provided the only legal counsel that they would have received. While not especially impacting on the engagement of other legal representation or on the quantity of court activities (i.e., the court workload), in the eyes of the SAC lawyers and the testimony of the other court role players, it has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of court processing. Its availability has provided relief to clients and court officials who otherwise would have quite stressed in responding to the unrepresented persons and their needs and demands. The thought of discontinuing the SAC initiative, especially without any profound reconfiguration of legal aid, is something that filled virtually all interviewees with dread.

There were some differences in the SAC service by site but overall the commonalities were much more pronounced. There is little question that SAC has effected a court system that is more effective, efficient and equitable (the so-called 3Es in social policy). At the same time it is important to appreciate that the SAC is a limited resource. There is still a very significant problem concerning the unrepresented litigant in Family Court. There is still more that can and should be done in achieving the 3Es, especially reaching out to community agencies and to diverse minority groups whether aboriginal or immigrants.) but, as noted above, a case can readily be made that SAC has certainly facilitated the more active client's pursuit of the available opportunities for justice and problem-solving in Family Court... Overall, then, while clearly the evidence underlines the crucial contributions of SAC for both clients and the court system, it is important to be realistic - as many judges have indicated, the problem of adequate legal counsel may have gone from a ten to an eight, and as community agencies and others have noted, the contribution to a more holistic, problem-solving court has been quite modest.

Report at 105

Concerns and Recommendations

The following concerns were raised and recommendations made in the report:

  • Promotion and awareness: public awareness of SAC and the appreciation of the SAC role among the court role players could be improved
  • First past the post: a concern was raised that one party in a dispute can manipulate the situation to effectively shut the other party out from any free legal advice, as SAC lawyers cannot give legal advice to both parties
  • More SAC: many of the clients expressed a need for an extension of the SAC service
  • Targeting of narrower, needier client base: as there are no restrictions on accessing the services, the assessment showed that SAC is much used by people who could turn to other sources for legal advice

Permanent Implementation in Halifax and Sydney

  • duty counsel
  • family law
  • legal advice
  • legal aid
  • self-represented litigants
imeline  
October 2003 SAC implemented in Halifax
April 2004 SAC implemented in Sydney
July 2006 Evaluation Report released
2004 Nova Scotia Self-Represented Litigants Project

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Department of Justice

All Nova Scotia Courts

Department of Justice project to identify the greatest for self-represented litigants in Nova Scotia courts and to make recommendations to improve services and develop programs.

The Needs Assessment resulted in a number of recommendations, including: a) developing processes, tools, and training for court staff for dealing with self-represented litigants; and b) providing and promoting additional, accessible print and web-based information for self-represented litigants.

Implemented reforms included:

  • A comprehensive website was developed containing self-help guides and tips.
  • Court staff worked with law student volunteers on FAQs for the SRL Project website to provide information to the public and guidance to court staff. The questions and answers differentiate between what is legal advice and what is legal information.
  • Signs were posted at the Family Law Information Centres and Court Administrative Offices to distinguish between legal advice and legal information by telling the public what court staff can and can't do.
  • A "Helpful Websites" List was prepared as a handout at the Court Administration Offices and online.
  • Brochures are available from the Court Administration Offices and online. They are updated on an annual basis and new brochures are developed from time to time. Many are translated into French.
  • In March 2006 an online forms program for Small Claims called Interactive Court Forms for Nova Scotia was launched.

The Self-Represented Litigants Project of the Court Services division of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice surveyed 40 judges, 163 court staff and 58 self-represented litigants (SRLs) to identify the greatest needs for courts and SRLs and to make recommendations to improve services and develop realistic programs for SRLs. The project team also observed 20 court hearings that involved the participation of one or more SRLs.

The interviews, focus groups and questionnaires used by the SRL project team confirmed expectations that SRLs are impacting in a significant way on the day to day administration of the courts, and often do not have sufficient knowledge to adequately represent themselves and may be disadvantaged by representing themselves.

 

Several recommendations implemented

  • Nova Scotia Court Services
  • Nova Scotia Courts
  • reform
  • self-represented litigants
March 2004 Needs Assessment including recommendations released
2005 BC Supreme Court Rules Fast Track Litigation (Part 15)

British Columbia

Attorney General of British Columbia

Supreme Court of British Columbia

The new fast track rule combines the existing expedited litigation rule (formerly Rule 68) and the fast track rule (formerly Rule 66) to provide a single simplified and fast procedure when the amount in controversy is $100,000 or less or when the trial of the action can be completed in three days or less. If the matter fits the fast track criteria, either party may put the case into the fast track. Either party can apply to have the case removed from the fast track (or the court may do so on its own).

If the matter fits the fast track criteria, either party may put the case into the fast track. Either party can apply to have the case removed from the fast track (or the court may do so on its own).

In a fast track action, the parties cannot file contested applications without first attending a case planning conference. Oral discovery in fast track actions are (absent consent) limited to two hours combined by all parties adverse in interest. Costs in fast track actions are limited to $8,000 for one day trials, $9,500 for two day trials and $11,000 for trials lasting three or more days. Most importantly, if a plaintiff recovers judgment of $100,000 (or less) or a trial is completed in three days (or less) the limited cost provisions apply. This will provide an incentive to ensure that cases that should be in the fast track are put into the fast track (Key Features at 3-4).

Simplified procedures for "economical track litigation" was identified as a potential area of reform in the BC Justice Review Task Force's 2002 report Exploring Fundamental Change, with analysis of Rule 66, Fast Track Litigation, serving as a basis for discussion. Following this report, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Supreme Court worked together to explore 'economical litigation' models. (Green Paper at 13)

The result of this was the Expedited Litigation Pilot Project. The two-year pilot project commenced on September 1, 2005 in Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, and Nelson. The rule was extended province-wide as of January 1, 2008.

In its November 2006 report, the BC Justice Review Task Force analyzed the effect of Rule 68 and made a number of recommendations. After several drafts and consultations, it was announced that the new civil and family rules have been adopted and will be fully implemented July 1, 2010. Part 15, the new fast track litigation rule, combines Rule 68 with Rule 66 "to provide a single simplified and fast procedure when the amount in controversy is $100,000 or less or when the trial of the action can be completed in three days or less" (Key Features at 3).

Permanent implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • Summary Judgments
July 2002 BC Justice Review Task Force report released
September 2005

Two year pilot project launched

November 2006 Effective and Affordable Civil Justice released
January 2008 Rule extended province wide
December 2008 Second draft rules consultation concluded
July 1, 2010 Implementation of new rules, replacing Rules 66 and 68

 

2005 Newfoundland and Labrador Case Management (Rule 18A)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Rules Committee of the Trial Division

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)

Overview of the case management process Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador rule.

 
An application for case management can be made on the ground that the proceeding will involve a complex issue or a lengthy trial, or that the preparation for trial or pre-trial applications in the proceeding would otherwise benefit from management, supervision and direction by a single judge.

A case management order can be obtained via an interlocutory application, informally through a request to the Chief Justice or a designated judge if all parties consent, by request to the pre-trial conference judge, or on a judge's own motion.

Once a case is approved for case management, a meeting is set up where a case judge and counsel may discuss any of the following:

  • the development of a case management plan, including milestones;
  • the procedures to be followed for further case management meetings;
  • the nature and extent of the pre-trial procedures that may be required to advance the proceedings;
  • the timing and methodology associated with the making of any application;
  • the dispensing with procedural steps associated with any application;
  • the possibility of resolving procedural steps by agreement;
  • the appropriateness of restructuring any or all of the proceedings for trial;
  • the setting or re-adjustment of timetables for steps to be taken in the proceedings;
  • the determination of readiness for trial of some or all of the proceedings, if more than one;
  • such other matters as would be discussed and dealt with at a pre-trial conference pursuant to rule 39.02(5);
  • the appropriateness of holding a settlement conference or mediation session;
  • the manner of conduct of the trial;
  • the preparation and filing of a certificate of readiness when the matter is ready for trial; and
  • any other matters pertinent to or affecting the proper conduct of the proceeding. [r.18A.06]

If a party fails to attend case management meetings, acts in a manner contrary to the spirit of Rule 18A, or obstructs the process, a judge can make any order as to costs. Provisions are also made to allow parties to participate in case management conferences through audio conferencing.

The Rules Committee of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced An Amendment to the Rules of the Supreme Court on November 30, 2004. The Amendment brought in Rule 18A - Case Management. This Amendment was forwarded to the Office of the Legislative Counsel on September 19, 2004, filed on September 19, 2005, and published in the September 23, 2005, edition of The Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette, as Newfoundland and Labrador Regulation 84/05. This Rule came into force on January 1, 2006.

Permanent implementation

  • case planning
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division)
January 2006 Rule came in force

 

2005 Nova Scotia Civil Rules Revision Project

Nova Scotia

The Courts of Nova Scotia

  • Court of Appeal
  • Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, General and Family Divisions

Project for comprehensive review and revision of the rules, with the aim of developing rules which are efficient, effective, and clear.

 
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia commenced a comprehensive Rules review in 2004, inviting the Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission, the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, and the Nova Scotia Department of Justice to participate in the Rules Revision Project. A Steering Committee was formed chaired by Justice John M. Davison, as well as a Supreme Court Drafting Subcommittee, Supreme Court Family Drafting Subcommittee, and Appeal Court Drafting Subcommittee. Working Groups were established to look into eight areas:

  • Appeals
  • Judicial Review
  • Discovery and Disclosure (Excluding Experts)
  • Evidence (including Experts)
  • Early Dispute Resolution
  • Determinations Without Trial
  • Smaller Claims
  • Management of Litigation

The first phase of the Nova Scotia Rules Revision Project, the review and discussion of policy issues, was completed in 2004-5. It included the development of an Issues Memorandum and the reports of several working groups which made specific recommendations on various issues. A new set of Rules was drafted based on these recommendations.

The new Rules received tentative approval by the Nova Scotia judiciary and were released in February 2008. The new Rules were formally approved in June, 2008 and went into effect 1 January 2009, except Part 13 - Family Proceedings, which were delayed for further review, with an implementation date of 30 June 2010.

New Civil Procedure Rules in effect.

  • Nova Scotia Courts
  • reform
  • rules of court
2004 Rules Revision Project commenced
2005 Working Groups reports issued
February 2008 Draft Rules received tentative approval
June 2008 Rules formally approved
January 2009 Rules went into effect, except Part 13
June 2010 Implementation of Part 13

 

2005 Nova Scotia Family Law Information Centres (FLICs)

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia Department of Justice
  • Supreme Court, Family Division

Supreme Court (Family Division)

Information centres for self-represented litigants with family law issues located in the courthouses.

FLICs offers free legal information and occasional sessions related to family law issues. Legal advice is not provided.
 
FLIC goals are to:
  • offer information about court processes, legal topics, and court services
  • develop and offer family law information clinics
  • make referrals to community agencies and programs
  • offer computer access
You can get information at a FLIC about:
  • court processes and forms
  • how to find a lawyer
  • alternatives to court
  • effects of separation and divorce on children
  • community resources
FLIC staff can:
  • help you understand the court process
  • provide you with court forms
  • help you find free information about your particular legal issue
  • explain how to get your own lawyer
  • refer you to services and resources in your community (Website)

 

In March 2004, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Court Services as part of a Needs Assessment Study on Self-Represented Litigants made a recommendation (Recommendation #20) that "Departmental support, including allocation of resources, [be provided] for the creation of an information centre for self-represented litigants at the Halifax site of the Supreme Court (Family Division) in the immediate future" (SRL Report at 50).

Following this recommendation, Family Law Information Centres (FLICs) were opened in 2005 on a pilot basis at the Family Courts in Sydney and Halifax. It is a joint project of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice and the Supreme Court, Family Division.

Ongoing pilot

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
March 2004 SRL Report released
January 2005 FLIC opened in Sydney
April 2005 FLIC opened in Halifax

 

2005 Toronto Case Management (Rule 78)

Ontario

Civil Rules Committee

Superior Court of Justice (Toronto)

Rule 78 to be "evaluated to examine whether improvements have been made in several areas, including: (a) time to disposition; (b) available dates for pre-trials and trials; (c) success of mediation; and (d) number of appearances required." (FAQ)

Rule 78 was developed to mitigate the difficulties arising from the application of the case management Rule 77 in Toronto.

Rule 78 is a case specific form of caseflow management based on the principle of "case management as necessary, not necessarily case management". Rule 78 applies to actions commenced in Toronto on or after December 31, 2004. It does not apply to commercial list actions, estate actions, mortgage actions, simplified procedure actions, construction lien actions, class actions, and actions under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The key features of Rule 78 are:

  • It provides partial or full case management only where a need for the court's intervention is demonstrated [78.02].
  • Mandatory mediation must be commenced within 90 days of the start of the action.
  • An action to which Rule 78 applies may still be assigned to case management under Rule 77 if either the parties consent [Rule 78.12(1)] or a judge or master makes an order based on a finding that a party is being uncooperative and obstructing the action [78.12(3)]. In either case, leave is required even if there is consent.
  • A judge is granted broad case management powers under rule 78.04 including extending or abridging times prescribed by the rules, amending timetables, giving directions, imposing terms and awarding costs. Sanctions for non-compliance are also outlined in the rule [78.11(3)].
  • Provisions exist to dismiss cases where: 1) over two years have passed since the action was commenced; 2) no defence has been filed; 3) the action has not been disposed of by order or judgement; 4) the action has not been set down for trial; and 5) the registrar has given 45 days notice that the action will be dismissed as abandoned [78.06(1)].
  • Pre-trial conferences will be scheduled after the action is set down for trial [78.10(1)].

Rule 78 was developed to mitigate the difficulties arising from the application of Rule 77. In November 2004, the Ontario Superior Court released a Practice Direction which halted the default application of Rule 77 due to the large number of cases in the Toronto region and the resulting strain on judicial resources. Rule 78 would instead limit the application of Rule 77 to those cases which required caseflow management. This targeted form of case management in Rule 78 is meant to lower costs for litigants, and allow for the more timely and economical completion of litigation.

Before the enactment of Rule 78, preliminary consultation occurred with various members of the judiciary, bar associations, the Ministry of the Attorney General, and other civil justice stakeholders throughout the summer and early fall of 2004. After preliminary consultations, a draft of the November 2004 Practice Direction was circulated for further comment. Written submissions were reviewed, resulting in improvements to the Practice Direction. The Rules Committee enacted rule 78 and amended Rules 24.1 and 77 to implement the Practice Direction.

Evaluation of Civil Case Management in the Toronto Region

In February 2008, Chief Justice of Ontario submitted an evaluation report on the Implementation of the Toronto Practice Direction and Rule 78 to the Civil Rules Committee. The report concludes that:

The Toronto Region's civil justice system is, by all accounts, working well. The delays that were experienced in the spring of 2004 no longer exist, and the system, based on its current level of resources, seems better able to handle the volume of cases that are commenced each month. While there are, no doubt, aspects of Rule 78 that will need to be assessed and perhaps adjusted in the future, the overarching findings from this review are that:

  • The unacceptable delays and missed dates on the long trial list have been eliminated.
  • Both short and long trial waiting times have reduced dramatically.
  • The settlement rate of cases within simplified procedures has increased radically and trials are now being conducted on a timeframe that is proportionate to the issue.
  • The flexibility in the timing of mandatory mediation has greatly increased its effectiveness (which directly influences the case inventory in the court and reduces costs to the parties).
  • With the three levels of mediation - mandatory, pre-trial and "designated-hitter" - the resolution rate before trial has increased significantly (which has a direct impact on the manageability of the trial list and the time to trial wait-times).
  • The reforms have resulted in a reduction of motion activity in Toronto Region.
  • Rule 78 changes have freed up master and judicial resources to be realigned to meet other needs within the system (e.g. family and criminal matters).

For these reasons, it is submitted that Rule 78 should be made permanent.

Evaluation at 32

Proposed New Rule 77

On October 1, 2008, the Civil Rules Committee issued a request for consultation on a proposed new case management Rule 77. These specific amendments "were so identified because they were not expressly considered, at least not in their current form, as part of the formal recommendations of the Civil Justice Reform Project".

One proposal is for a new case management rule (Rule 77) that carries with it certain consequential amendments to the rule respecting mandatory mediation (Rule 24.1). The intention of the new case management rule is to combine the existing three Rules that involve different forms of case management (rule 37.15, Rule 77 & Rule 78) into one Rule. The new Rule is designed to be flexible enough to permit different Regions of the Province to adapt the case management process to fit the individual needs of each Region. In that regard, the new Rule does not propose or envisage any substantive change to the manner in which case management currently operates in Ottawa, Toronto or Windsor. The new Rule also allows for different levels of case management for different cases. The mandatory mediation rule is to be altered to make it a separately operating rule such that mandatory mediation can be required in cases without also requiring those cases to be subject to case management and vice versa. There is also more flexibility as to the timeframe within which mandatory mediation must occur under the amended Rule.

Consultation Paper at 1

Pilot project (January 2005 - May 2008) extended to December 31, 2010

  • litigation management
  • Ontario Superior Court of Justice
  • reform
  • rules of court
November 2004 Practice Direction suspends automatic application of Rule 77 in Toronto
May 2005 Rule 78 Pilot Project commences
January 2008 Rule 78 Pilot Project extended to December 2010
February 2008 Evaluation submitted to the Civil Rules Committee
2006 Canadian Judicial Council Statement of Principles on Self-represented Litigants and Accused Persons

National

Canadian Judicial Council

Advisory principles for judges and the courts to promote access to justice for self-represented litigants.

The Statement is is advisory, and is not a code of conduct.

The principles expressed by the CJC include:

  • We must promote rights of access to justice for those who represent themselves. This means that all aspects of the court process must be open, simple, and accommodating. The court process should be supplemented by alternate dispute resolution procedures and self-help support.
  • We must promote equal justice. Judges and courts should do everything possible to prevent unfair disadvantage to self-represented persons.
  • Judges and court administrators have a responsibility to meet the needs of self-represented litigants for simple information and referrals.
  • Self-represented litigants are expected to prepare their own case and make themselves familiar with court practices and procedures. They must be respectful of the court process and its officials. Vexatious litigants cannot abuse the process.
In conjunction with the statement of principles, other helpful working tools were developed to help judges assist people who represent themselves in court. These tools provide:
  • information for judges about the needs of self-represented litigants;
  • case law and annotations on issues that have impacted on those representing themselves in court;
  • advice and suggested plain language words to explain legal procedures to self-represented litigants in family, civil, and criminal cases; and
  • references for local resources for self-represented litigants (Annual Report at 5).

The Canadian Judicial Council Administration of Justice Committee focused in 2006 on "ensuring that self-represented persons who appear in the court system have fair access and equal treatment in the courts." (Annual Report at 4.)

After extensive work by the Committee, a statement of principles on self-represented persons was issued in December 2006. The Committee's work began with a detailed examination of the issues facing self-represented persons in court. They concluded that self-represented persons are generally uninformed about their legal rights and about the consequences of the options they choose. They find court procedures complex, confusing, and intimidating and they generally do not have the knowledge to effectively participate in their own litigation (Annual Report at 4).

 

  • access to justice
  • courts
  • judges
  • self-represented litigants
2007 Ontario Summary Judgment (Rule 20)

Ontario

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Rule allowing for summary judgment where there is no genuine issue for trial, and the proposed revisions that would allow for an issue to be settled by way of mini-trial.

Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions for summary judgment. It provides a mechanism in cases where there is "no genuine issue for trial" for all or part of a claim to be disposed of in a summary manner without a full trial. The primary inquiry on a motion for summary judgment is whether there is a dispute over a material fact that requires resolution by trial. The onus rests on the party seeking summary judgment to establish that there is no genuine issue for trial. Specific cost consequences automatically apply where a party seeking summary judgment does not succeed or where a party acted in bad faith or for the purpose of delay.

The revisions to Rule 20 are potentially the most significant of all the new amendments. The court's powers on the motion are expanded to permit a judge (though not a master) to weigh evidence, evaluate the credibility of a deponent and draw any reasonable inference from the evidence. A new mini-trial power permits a judge to order the hearing of oral evidence on a motion for summary judgment where the interests of justice require a brief trial to dispose of the summary judgment motion. The substantially revised rule on "where trial is necessary" gives the court much greater powers and effectively permits such cases to enter a form of case management. The presumption of substantial indemnity costs against an unsuccessful moving party in a summary judgment motion in rule 20.06 has been eliminated and replaced with a rule conferring permissive authority on the court to impose substantial indemnity costs.

  • mini-trial
  • Ontario Superior Court of Justice
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
  • summary judgments
January 1, 1985 Rule 20 came into force
November 2007 Civil Justice Reform Project summary of findings and recommendations released
December 2008 Changes to Rules of Civil Procedure announced
January 1, 2010 Rule changes come into effect
2007 Prince Edward Island Study on Self Represented Litigants

Prince Edward Island

Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

Project designed to find out what types of services might realistically be developed and supported to assist self-represented litigants in the Supreme Court.

 
In late 2006, the executive members of the Law Foundation approached the Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) to discuss the continuing problem of self-represented litigants in Prince Edward Island's Supreme Court. In the discussion of various approaches that could be tried, the viability of a "Self-Help Centre" was raised. It was agreed that work needed to be done to find out what solutions key personnel in the legal and courts systems thought would be feasible and appropriate to deal with self-represented litigants (SRLs) --and what solutions might be supported (Study of SRL at 16).
 
In November 2007, work on the project was commenced and the final report was released in June 2008. A follow-up Supreme Court Collaborative Law Pilot Project has been initiated. It is funded by the Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island

 
Recommendations:

1. That the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island develop a means of identifying cases involving self-represented litigants so that statistics may be maintained and obtained when required.
2. That CLIA take on the role of developing written materials related to the Supreme Court process and procedures.
3. That CLIA, using recently purchased software, review Court Forms with the object of creating plain language, interactive, PDF documents.
4. That CLIA work in collaboration with the court staff to develop, promote and distribute legal information materials about the court process.
5. That the Supreme Court explore the feasibility of making alternative dispute resolution an integral part of the court process for SRLs.
6. That the Office of the Attorney General expands the current mediation service provided by the Family Law Centre to assist SRLs with the early settlement of child support, child custody and access, and family asset issues.
7. (Notwithstanding the recent announcement of additional funding for legal aid) That the Office of the Attorney General ensures that the availability of legal aid services be increased by raising financial eligibility and expanding civil legal aid to cover a wider variety of family cases and other types of civil disputes.
8. That the Office of the Attorney General establish a Child Custody and Access Office, similar in mandate to the current Child Support Guidelines Office, and providing a similar level of support for people with custody and access issues.
9. That a Law Courts Information Centre be established (Study of SRL at 6).

Completed with follow-up project initiated

  • proposed reforms
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island
November 2007 Commencement of the project
June 2008 Study of SRL presented
2007 Yukon Family Law Information Centre

Yukon

Yukon Department of Justice

Yukon Department of Justice's courthouse centre offering legal information to self-represented litigants with family law issues.

The FLIC is accessible to all self-represented litigants in family law matters, and provides information about "filing for divorce and child support guidelines as well as referral information about other family law matters including adoption, adult guardianship, family violence, Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP), and family law court procedures." (Website) It does not provide legal advice or representation.

Resources include the website, a resource centre in the Whitehorse Law Courts Building, and a Yukon-wide toll free helpline.

Services offered:

  • information on family law
  • various publications on family law matters, including self-help guides
  • calculation of child support, spousal support and the standard of living test
  • some help with completing court forms
  • computers for public use to research family law matters and to access and prepare court forms
  • notarization of court forms
  • referrals to other organizations and agencies
  • lending library of books and videos on family law issues

The FLIC was opened on November 30, 2007 by the Yukon Department of Justice, after conducting a feasibility study in 2004 and 2005.

Permanent implementation

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Yukon Department of Justice

 

November 2007 FLIC opened

 

2007 Yukon Judicial Settlement Conference (Rule 37)

Yukon

Supreme Court of Yukon

Judicial settlement conference process in Supreme Court.

 
A judge may order attendance at a settlement conference upon request of a party or on his or her own motion.
 

Priority will generally be given to family law matters, as they are usually more urgent. It is anticipated that in personal injury matters, a private mediation will be attempted before a judge will be called upon, except for those cases with a contested legal issue.

Counsel may jointly request a particular judge whose background and experience will be conducive to reaching a settlement. The senior judge will assign the settlement conference judge.

In advance of the settlement conference, the judge [may] have a phone conference with counsel to discuss the case. This will include the issues to be dealt with and their order, whether it will be a mediation, one judge's opinion or arbitration, and the timeline for filing settlement briefs. Counsel will be asked to disclose the settlement discussions to date including offers. The discussion should determine who will start first and the level of participation of counsel and parties.

The settlement conference will be conducted in a respectful way and the conduct of counsel and parties must be respectful at all times.

The settlement conference will be without prejudice, which means that nothing that is said or done can be raised at trial. All documents produced will be returned to counsel or the parties.

The settlement conference will be recorded by the judge. The recording is for the use of the judge only and will be stored in a sealed envelope in a separate file.

The settlement conference judge will not be the trial judge, unless all parties request and consent to that judge hearing the trial.

Generally, the attendance of counsel and the instructing party is required. In personal injury cases, the adjuster with settlement authority must attend. Videoconferencing may be arranged (Practice Direction at 1).

Practice Direction No. 41, Judicial Settlement Conferences, was issued on May 23, 2007 and Rule 37, Judicial Settlement Conference, came into force on September 15, 2008 as part of the reform of the Rules of Court for the Supreme Court of Yukon.

Permanent Implementation

  • rules of court
  • settlement conferences
  • Supreme Court of Yukon
May 23, 2007 Practice Direction No. 41 issued
Sept. 18, 2008 Rule 37 came into force
2009 Federal Court Rules - Summary Judgement and Summary Trial (Rules 213 to 219)

Federal 

Rules Committee of the Federal Court of Appeal and the Federal Court

  • Federal Court of Canada
  • Federal Court of Appeal

Federal Court rules governing summary judgments and summary trial procedures.

Final Rules Description and Rationale

The Rules Committee of the Federal Court of Appeal and the Federal Court (the "Committee") has determined that the administration of justice would be better served by the incorporation of a summary trial procedure, similar to that found in rule 18A of the British Columbia Rules of Court, into the Federal Courts Rules. Such an amendment allows the Court to dispose summarily of actions in a greater range of circumstances than is permitted under current rule 216(3). These amendments also serve to give the parties greater control over the pace of their litigation.

The rules governing summary judgment are therefore amended to establish a summary trial proceeding in addition to motions for summary judgment. These amendments enable the Court to determine an issue or action by way of summary trial even though there is conflicting evidence or issues of credibility which, prior to these amendments, would have required a full trial.

The amendments also permit a party to bring a motion for summary trial where, in the party's opinion, there are genuine issues that could be determined without a full trial.

These amendments expand the number of instances in which an action may be disposed of summarily providing greater flexibility to the parties and to the Court and enhancing access to justice.

The amendments also clarify the evidentiary burden on a party responding to a summary judgment motion to make it consistent with recent jurisprudence.

Final Rules

Final Rules Technical Description

The following amendments were made:

  • Rule 50(1)(c) is amended to clarify that a prothonotary does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine a motion for summary trial.
  • Rule 81(1) is amended to clarify that the exception which allows affidavits on information and belief to be filed in support of motions is not applicable to motions for summary judgment or summary trial.
  • Rule 213(1) is amended to allow a party to bring a motion for summary judgment or summary trial prior to the time, date and location of the trial having been fixed. The Committee notes that the Court continues to have an overriding power to dispense with compliance with any of the Rules in special circumstances pursuant to rule 55.
  • Rule 213(2) is replaced by a provision which limits a party to bringing one motion for summary judgment or summary trial. Subsequent motions pursuant to rule 213(1) may only be brought with leave of the Court.
  • A new rule 213(3) requires the moving party to serve and file its motion record at least 20 days prior to the date set for the hearing of the motion. New rule 213(4) provides for a deadline of 10 days before the hearing date for any responding materials to be served and filed.
  • New rule 214 clarifies the evidentiary burden on the responding party to a motion for summary judgment to render it consistent with recent jurisprudence.
  • Rule 215(3) replaces former rule 216(3). Rule 215(3)(a) gives the Court the power to proceed to determine an action or issue by way of a summary trial even where it is satisfied that there is a genuine issue of fact and law for trial. The Court may make any order necessary for the conduct of the summary trial.
  • Rule 215(3)(b) empowers the Court to dismiss a motion for summary judgment in whole or in part and order that the matter proceed to trial and be specially managed thereby allowing the matter to move forward as quickly as possible.
  • Rule 216 is added to provide a summary trial mechanism. It sets out the type of evidence which may be adduced [216(1)]; delineates the scope of rebuttal evidence by the moving party [216(2)]; empowers the Court to make any order necessary for the conduct of the summary trial including an order requiring a witness to attend for cross-examination viva voce before the Court [216(3)]; permits the Court to draw an adverse inference where a party fails to cross-examine or file responding or rebuttal evidence [216(4)]; sets out the circumstances in which the Court may dismiss the motion for summary trial [216(5)]; empowers the Court to grant judgment if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence for adjudication [216(6)]; gives the Court the power to make any order necessary for the disposition of the action [216(7)]; and, if the motion for summary trial is dismissed, gives the Court the power to order that the matter proceed to trial and be specially managed [216(8)].
  • Rules 217 to 219 are amended to include judgments under new rule 216 (summary trials).
  • Rule 218(c) of the French version is amended to better reflect the wording of the English version.
  • Rule 297 is amended to preclude motions for summary trial being brought in simplified actions (as is set out in rule 292 regarding actions in which each claim is exclusively for monetary relief in an amount not exceeding $50,000 or, on motion, the Court orders that the action be conducted as a simplified action).
  • Rule 366 is amended to include motions for summary trial.
    Final Rules

Concerns Expressed in Relation to the Draft Rules and Response Thereto

Rule 81: A concern was raised about the inadmissibility of hearsay evidence in summary judgment and summary trial motions. More particularly, IPIC questioned whether this amendment would increase cost and reduce the flexibility of the Court process by limiting the type of evidence available to a party. However, the Committee noted that evidence adduced in a summary judgment motion may be filed in a subsequent summary trial motion. It would be inappropriate to conduct a summary trial on the basis of hearsay evidence; allowing hearsay on a summary trial motion would also lead to possible motions contesting the admissibility of that evidence thereby result in further delay and expense.

Rule 213(1): A concern was raised about the amendments which appear to limit the flexibility of a party to bring a motion for summary judgment or trial at certain times in a proceeding. The committee reviewed the comment and concluded that in view of the rules governing case management, as well as Rule 55 which allows the court to vary or dispense with compliance in special circumstances, no change to the proposed amendment was necessary.

Rule 215(3): A comment was made about the possibility that a motion for summary trial would be scheduled immediately after being converted from a motion for summary judgment. The Committee noted that any issue in relation to the timing of a subsequent motion for summary trial could be addressed by the parties at the outset of a summary judgment motion. As well, the Committee noted that the amendment provides the Court with a wide discretion to make orders or directions in relation to the conduct of a summary trial. Finally, the Court is bound to interpret the Rules in accordance with the principle of fairness set out in Rule 3 which would require that parties be given sufficient time to present their position.

Rule 216(1): The CBA-IP section recommended that the deadlines for filing memoranda of fact and law in summary judgment motions be modified to allow for written representations to be filed after the motion records. The Committee noted that similar timelines for summary judgment motions have been in existence since the coming into force of the Federal Courts Rules in 1998. Moreover, the majority of actions in the Federal Court are case managed which, pursuant to Rule 385, creates an inherently flexible framework for the management of such procedural issues.

Rule 216(3) [now rule 216(5)]: IPIC noted that the proposed rule permitted the Court to dismiss a motion for summary judgment on its own motion. IPIC raised a concern that such a discretion may permit the Court to dismiss a motion for summary trial without hearing submissions from the parties to the motion. The Committee noted that in light of the fairness principle set out in Rule 3 of the Federal Courts Rules a party would always be entitled to make submissions before the Court dismissed a motion of its own initiative.

Another comment made in relation to rule 216(5) [now Rule 216(3)] recommended that the permissive term "may" found in the proposed rule be replaced by the mandatory word "shall". The Committee agreed with this suggestion as it would be inappropriate to continue the hearing of a motion for summary trial where a party has established that the motion falls within the scope of rule 216(3) [now 216(5)].

Rule 216(4) [now Rule 216(3)]: It was recommended that the proposed rule should specify when orders in relation to the cross-examination of witnesses will be made to facilitate the preparation for hearings. The Committee concluded that this concern was likely the result of the wording "on or before" which may have led to the belief that the Court would ask parties to present witnesses at the hearing without notice. The wording "on or before" has been removed to address this concern. Additionally, all of the rules in the Federal Courts Rules are to be interpreted in light of the fairness principle set out in Rule 3 which would require that a party be given sufficient time to properly present a witness.

Responding to concerns that the current summary judgment Rule 216 contained in the Federal Court Rules is too restrictive in scope, the Federal Courts Rules Committee circulated the Discussion Paper on October 13, 2006 to discuss possible alternatives. A subcommittee received and considered comments from judges of the Federal Court of Appeal and the Federal Court, as well as from members of the Bar. The majority of the comments supported the proposal.

The proposed rule amendments were then drafted, modifying the current rules governing motions for summary judgment and introducing a summary trial procedure. The proposed changes were premised on Rule 18A of the BC Rules of Civil Procedure. These were further discussed within the subcommittee, as well as at a meeting of the Federal Courts Rules Committee. The draft amendments were also discussed in 2007 and 2008 at the Bench and Bar Liaison Committee meetings. The majority of the members were in agreement with the proposal.

Following a pre-publishing in January of 2009 and consultation, the Rules came into force on December 10, 2009.

Permanent Implementation 

  • Federal Court of Appeal
  • Federal Court of Canada
  • proposed reforms
  • rules of court
  • summary judgments
  • summary trials
 

October 2006 Discussion Paper circulated by the Rules Committee
January 2009 Proposed Rules published in Canada Gazette
December 2009 Rules came into force
Event
2009 Nova Scotia Action for Claim Valued Under $100,000 (Rule 58)

Nova Scotia

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia rule allowing parties to opt in to Rule 57 expedited procedure on agreement or motion.

Rule 58 - Action for Claim Valued Under $100,000 offers the prospect of using R.57 economical procedures in cases where R.57 would not otherwise apply. Rule 58 expands to include causes of action not mentioned in R.57, and actions seeking remedies other than damages.

Unlike R.57, which is mandatory if the criteria apply, R.58 can be invoked by any party and applied on agreement or motion. The moving party must satisfy a three part test under R.58.02(2):

  • a) The claim can be estimated in money and there is no significant intangible interest at stake;
  • b) The fair estimated value of the plaintiff's claim is under $100,000 and there is no counterclaim, crossclaim or third party claim with a fair estimated value in excess of $100,000;
  • c) The expense of taking the action to its conclusion will be disproportionate to the interests at stake, unless R.57 is applied, or similar directions are given.

Once satisfied, the court can apply R.57, or give customized directions for disclosure, limit discovery, require witness lists and will-says, limit time for trial or examinations, or any other directions that will make the cost proportionate to the interests at stake. Rule 58 offers considerably more flexibility than R.57. Rule 58.01(2) appears to allow parties to agree to economical limits notwithstanding that the value of the claim exceeds $100,000.

Applicability where remedy sought includes a declaration affecting ongoing payments - Contract claims involving the cessation of ongoing payments (e.g. disability insurance) do not fit within R.57, as part of the relief claimed typically includes a declaration dealing with future entitlement. Remedies are not limited under R.58, but the applicability of the Rule will depend on whether the "fair estimated value" of the plaintiff's claim includes future amounts exceeding $100,000 that are dealt with by declaration.

Training Materials, Module 2 at 16-17

Rule 58, governing actions for claims under $100,000, went into effect on January 1, 2009.

The Rule was developed as part of the Nova Scotia Rules Revision Project. Unlike Rule 57, which is mandatory simplified procedure for certain claims under $100,000, Rule 58 can be invoked by any party and applied on agreement or motion.

Permanent Implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
February 2008 Draft Rules received tentative approval
June 2008 Rules formally approved
January 2009 Rules went into effect
 

 

 

2009 Nova Scotia Action for Claim Valued Under $100,000 (Rule 58)

Nova Scotia

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia rule allowing parties to opt in to Rule 57 expedited procedure on agreement or motion.

Rule 58 - Action for Claim Valued Under $100,000 offers the prospect of using R.57 economical procedures in cases where R.57 would not otherwise apply. Rule 58 expands to include causes of action not mentioned in R.57, and actions seeking remedies other than damages.

Unlike R.57, which is mandatory if the criteria apply, R.58 can be invoked by any party and applied on agreement or motion. The moving party must satisfy a three part test under R.58.02(2):

  • a) The claim can be estimated in money and there is no significant intangible interest at stake;
  • b) The fair estimated value of the plaintiff's claim is under $100,000 and there is no counterclaim, crossclaim or third party claim with a fair estimated value in excess of $100,000;
  • c) The expense of taking the action to its conclusion will be disproportionate to the interests at stake, unless R.57 is applied, or similar directions are given.

Once satisfied, the court can apply R.57, or give customized directions for disclosure, limit discovery, require witness lists and will-says, limit time for trial or examinations, or any other directions that will make the cost proportionate to the interests at stake. Rule 58 offers considerably more flexibility than R.57. Rule 58.01(2) appears to allow parties to agree to economical limits notwithstanding that the value of the claim exceeds $100,000.

Applicability where remedy sought includes a declaration affecting ongoing payments - Contract claims involving the cessation of ongoing payments (e.g. disability insurance) do not fit within R.57, as part of the relief claimed typically includes a declaration dealing with future entitlement. Remedies are not limited under R.58, but the applicability of the Rule will depend on whether the "fair estimated value" of the plaintiff's claim includes future amounts exceeding $100,000 that are dealt with by declaration.

Training Materials, Module 2 at 16-17

Rule 58, governing actions for claims under $100,000, went into effect on January 1, 2009.

The Rule was developed as part of the Nova Scotia Rules Revision Project. Unlike Rule 57, which is mandatory simplified procedure for certain claims under $100,000, Rule 58 can be invoked by any party and applied on agreement or motion.

Permanent Implementation

  • expedited litigation
  • rules of court
  • Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
February 2008 Draft Rules received tentative approval
June 2008 Rules formally approved
January 2009 Rules went into effect
 

 

 

2010 Report on New Probate Rules

British Columbia

The British Columbia Law Institute

Probate Rules concerns reform of the rules of court relating to probate and administration of estates in British Columbia. It is a necessary sequel to the Succession Law Reform Project which BCLI completed in 2006. It s intended in part to implement procedural recommendations made in the Final Report for that project. The Probate Rules Revision Project is funded by the Ministry of Attorney General of British Columbia.

Among the other significant changes to probate procedure proposed in this consultation paper are the following: 

  • a 21 day notice period that must elapse between the notice of an intended application for a grant of probate or administration and the filing of the application;
  • a single application form for a grant or resealing, comprising the information now found in the applicant’s affidavit and the disclosure document concerning the deceased, the last will if any, and the deceased’s estate;
  • abolition of the need to “clear off” potential administrators having equal or prior right to a grant;
  • provision for an application to remove a caveat;
  • provision for new procedures at the probate stage contemplated by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, such as curative orders to admit wills to probate despite formal defects, rectification of wills and upholding of gifts to attesting witnesses in some circumstances;
  • deletion of the schedule of proposed distribution from an application for a grant or resealing;
  • disclosure of debts in an application for a grant or resealing would be limited to debts encumbering specific assets;
  • discontinuance, consent dismissal, and settlement without leave of the court would be permitted in contested probate proceedings as in other civil matters, and default judgment would be possible except in proceedings for revocation;

BCLI believes the new probate rules set out in this report will modernize and simplify probate procedure in keeping with the objects of the new Civil Rule. 

Completed

  • wills, estates & life planning
  • rules of Court
  • probate Rules
  • courts & tribunals
  • administration of estates
  • property law

 

2010 Vancouver Justice Access Centre Self-help and Information Services (previously BC Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre)

British Columbia

Collaboration between government and non-governmental bodies

BC Supreme Court, Civil and Family divisions

Evaluation objectives flowing from project objectives can be itemized as follows:

  • To determine the degree to which the centre assists users to access information, education and referrals services.
  • To determine the effectiveness of the centre service delivery model including the collaborative and consultative structure to which government and community partners contribute.
  • To identify effective practices and/or any barriers in the implementation of the project that can inform future program implementation.
  • To determine the degree to which the Centre, by increasing unrepresented litigant's access to justice, also facilities efficiencies in the court system.
  • Qualitative information was gathered in 116 interviews carried out during the project, including 35 interviews with SHC users (Final Evaluation at 13, 8).

Self-help centre for unrepresented litigants offering advice, information, and education about procedures in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre is now part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre, where self-help and information services are provided. This has led to a wider range of civil law information and self-help topics, as well as references to services that are available through the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

Over the past five to ten years, unrepresented litigants have emerged as an identifiable target group for services. In response to the increasing number of unrepresented litigants, justice system partners began the Developing Models for Coordinated Services for Self-Representing Litigants project in the spring of 2004.

Government and non-government agencies collaborated in designing the Centre and determining the services that would help unrepresented litigants.... The pilot project received funding from the Law Foundation of BC, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Ministry of Attorney General. It also received extensive contributions of technical expertise, staff resources, and products from all the participating agencies, both government and non-government (Final Evaluation at 12-13).

Interview data shows that the centre was providing a unique set of self-help services and was forming part of a larger context of emerging services for unrepresented litigants.

Users reported the centre as largely effective in satisfying their needs and in helping them prepare for court. In addition, the centre was seen as effective in connecting users to appropriate services through referrals. Through these actions, the centre was also seen to yield efficiencies at the level of court proceedings and the operation of the registry (Final Evaluation at 8).

Ongoing collaboration

  • court assistance
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • family law
  • alternative dispute resolution
April 2005 Pilot project commenced
April 2006

Program funded for 2006-2007

June 2010

The Supreme Court Self-help Information Centre is now called Self-help and Information Services and is part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

 

2010 Vancouver Justice Access Centre Self-help and Information Services (previously BC Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre)

British Columbia

Collaboration between government and non-governmental bodies

BC Supreme Court, Civil and Family divisions

Evaluation objectives flowing from project objectives can be itemized as follows:

  • To determine the degree to which the centre assists users to access information, education and referrals services.
  • To determine the effectiveness of the centre service delivery model including the collaborative and consultative structure to which government and community partners contribute.
  • To identify effective practices and/or any barriers in the implementation of the project that can inform future program implementation.
  • To determine the degree to which the Centre, by increasing unrepresented litigant's access to justice, also facilities efficiencies in the court system.
  • Qualitative information was gathered in 116 interviews carried out during the project, including 35 interviews with SHC users (Final Evaluation at 13, 8).

Self-help centre for unrepresented litigants offering advice, information, and education about procedures in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre is now part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre, where self-help and information services are provided. This has led to a wider range of civil law information and self-help topics, as well as references to services that are available through the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

Over the past five to ten years, unrepresented litigants have emerged as an identifiable target group for services. In response to the increasing number of unrepresented litigants, justice system partners began the Developing Models for Coordinated Services for Self-Representing Litigants project in the spring of 2004.

Government and non-government agencies collaborated in designing the Centre and determining the services that would help unrepresented litigants.... The pilot project received funding from the Law Foundation of BC, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Ministry of Attorney General. It also received extensive contributions of technical expertise, staff resources, and products from all the participating agencies, both government and non-government (Final Evaluation at 12-13).

Interview data shows that the centre was providing a unique set of self-help services and was forming part of a larger context of emerging services for unrepresented litigants.

Users reported the centre as largely effective in satisfying their needs and in helping them prepare for court. In addition, the centre was seen as effective in connecting users to appropriate services through referrals. Through these actions, the centre was also seen to yield efficiencies at the level of court proceedings and the operation of the registry (Final Evaluation at 8).

Ongoing collaboration

  • court assistance
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • family law
  • alternative dispute resolution
April 2005 Pilot project commenced
April 2006

Program funded for 2006-2007

June 2010

The Supreme Court Self-help Information Centre is now called Self-help and Information Services and is part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

 

2011 Administrative Adjudicative Decisions: Statutory Review Mechanisms

Alberta 

Alberta Law Reform Institute    

Administrative Tribunal 

In 2010, the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) considered whether to undertake a project regarding the diversity of statutory review mechanisms available in Alberta for reviewing or appealing adjudicative decisions made by administrative tribunals. These tribunals include any administrative board, commission, agency or other body, which exercises adjudicative decision-making power under provincial legislation.

Although the ALRI Board ultimately decided against proceeding with the project, it directed that the tribunal inventory be published on the ALRI website as a useful resource for others in this area, including legal practitioners, the judiciary, academics, government officials, tribunals and the public.

Completed 

  • administrative law
  • tribunal
  • adjudication
  • procedure
  • appeal 
  • legal education
  • court administration
2011 The legal information in the tribunal inventory is current to March 31, 2011
2010 The project commenced