Effective February 1, 2019
This practice advisory applies to Superior Court of Justice civil cases that are approved for inclusion in the pilot by the Regional Senior Judge. Simplified procedure cases under Rule 76 of the Rules of Civil Procedure are ineligible for the pilot.
This practice advisory supplements existing practice directions. Counsel and parties are advised to refer to the relevant parts of the Consolidated Provincial Practice Direction and any other applicable region-specific practice directions or guides, which are available on the Superior Court of Justice website at: www.ontariocourts.ca/scj.
In addition, this practice advisory supplements existing civil case management provisions under the Rules of Civil Procedure, including:
- Rule 77, applicable in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor, in which certain proceedings can be directed into Rule 77 case management by the court’s own initiative, at the request of a party, or on motion if required by the court (r. 77.05); and
- Rule 37.15, which provides that, where a proceeding involves complicated issues, or where there are two or more proceedings that involve similar issues, the Chief Justice, Associate Chief Justice, Regional Senior Judge, or his or her designate, may direct that all motions in the proceedings be heard by a particular judge (the case management judge). The case management judge can give directions and make procedural orders necessary to promote the most expeditious and least expensive determination of the proceeding.
What is one-judge case management?
The impetus for this pilot was a report of the Judiciary Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers. The report, titled Working Smarter But Not Harder in Canada: the Development of a Unified Approach to Case Management in Civil Litigation, discussed the benefits of having the case management judge also preside at the trial of a matter.
The pilot includes the following features:
- A judge that has been assigned to case-manage an action will preside over all pre-trial hearings, case management conferences, and the trial. This will allow the judge to become entirely familiar with the issues in the dispute. The only exception is for case conferences that are dedicated solely to settlement discussions; a different judge will preside over these case conferences in order to allow the parties to freely discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case and discuss the parties’ willingness to compromise their positions in an effort to find common ground.
- No formal interlocutory motions will be scheduled in cases assigned to the pilot without the approval of the case management judge. Instead, informal procedures will be used wherever possible to resolve interlocutory disputes, such as meetings with counsel and self-represented parties in the judge’s chambers or by teleconference. (Exception: motions for recusal would not require the approval of the case management judge.)
- At a relatively early stage of the proceeding, the case management judge will fix a trial date, or order a trial to be heard in a particular sitting of the court, and impose a schedule for completing necessary steps prior to trial. The trial date would be adjourned only in exceptional circumstances and would require the approval of the case management judge. For efficiency in the scheduling or conduct of the trial, the case management judge may make pre-trial orders concerning the admissibility of trial evidence.
The expected benefits of one-judge case management are the faster and less costly resolution of civil disputes. The pilot will be evaluated after two years.
How can I get my case included in the pilot?
Inclusion in the pilot is at the discretion of the Regional Senior Judge or his or her designate. The extent to which the pilot is available in the region, including the number of actions admitted into the pilot, will depend on available judicial resources and local scheduling practices.
When determining whether to include a case in the pilot, similar to Rule 77, the Regional Senior Judge or his or her designate will take into consideration a variety of factors, including:
- The complexity of the issues of fact or law
- The importance to the public of the issues of fact or law
- The number and type of parties or prospective parties, and whether they are represented
- The number of proceedings involving the same or similar parties or causes of action
- The amount of intervention by the court that the proceeding is likely to require
- The time required for discovery, if applicable, and for preparation for trial or hearing
- In the case of an action, the number of expert witnesses and other witnesses
- The time required for the trial or hearing
- Whether there has been substantial delay in the conduct of the proceeding.
Parties may apply to participate in the pilot by writing to the Regional Senior Judge or sending a completed application form (form available at: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/files/forms/application-ccmp-EN.docx). The letter/application form must indicate the following:
- The court file number
- Title of proceeding
- The court location where case was commenced (or to which it has been transferred)
- The reasons why case management is needed to facilitate the resolution of the dispute
- Confirmation that all parties consent to the following terms of the pilot:
- The case management judge will preside at the trial of the case, and
- Interlocutory disputes will be resolved though informal processes, such as case conferences, and no formal interlocutory motions will be scheduled unless the case management judge orders otherwise.
How will I know if my case has been accepted into the pilot?
You will receive written confirmation as to whether your case has been accepted into the pilot. If your case has been accepted, the confirmation will include the name of the case management judge. The case management judge may then direct the parties to attend a case conference pursuant to Rule 50.13 of the Rules of Civil Procedure to discuss the next steps.
How long will the pilot be and how will it be evaluated?
The expected duration of the pilot is two years. Participants are encouraged to complete an anonymous survey to assist in evaluating the one-judge civil case management model. The survey will be emailed to parties participating in the pilot.
Dated: January 3, 2019
Heather J. Smith
Superior Court of Justice