Tuesday, November 28, 2006

B.C. Civil Justice Reform Recommendations

The Civil Justice Reform Working Group, which is part of the B.C. Justice Review Task Force, has recently published a report entitled Effective and Affordable Justice. The suggested changes for civil disputes include, to quote the press release,

1. Create a "hub," where people can go to get the information and services they need to solve legal problems on their own.

2. Require parties to personally attend a case planning conference (CPC) before they engage the justice system beyond initiating and responding to a claim. This conference will require judges to take an active role in the management of the case and to match the case to the most appropriate dispute resolution process.

3. Rewrite the Supreme Court Rules to include (in addition to the CPC) these main features:
o Require judges to take proportionality principles into account when issuing any order in a case. Judges will be expected to ensure that the amount of process is proportional to the value, complexity and importance of the case.
o Abolish the current pleading process and replace it with a case initiation and response procedure that includes a plan for conducting the case and achieving a resolution.
o Substantially reduce the volume of documentary discovery, oral examinations for discovery and expert evidence.
o Limit allowable time and materials for motions.
o Set limits to streamline trials.

The proposals would not apply to family law disputes, but would apply to other areas of civil lawsuits including estate disputes.

I have just skimmed the report. I will hold off on my editorial comments until I have read and thought about the report more carefully.

The Co-Chairs, Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel, QC , and Chief Justice Brenner, will be travelling around British Columbia, seeking input into the recommendations.

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