1. Parties and their representatives (if any) must attend the settlement conference on the date indicated in the Notice of Settlement Conference.
2. A settlement conference is an informal, confidential meeting between the parties in the presence of a judicial officer (a judge or deputy judge). The judicial officer at your settlement conference will not be the judge at your trial.
3. At a settlement conference, you do not need to stand up when you address the judicial officer; you need only do so in court. You should address a judge or deputy judge as “Your Honour”.
4. The purpose of your settlement conference is to:
a) Resolve some or all of the issues in the action.
b) Encourage settlement of the action.
c) Help you get ready for trial.
d) Provide full disclosure among the parties of all the relevant facts and evidence.
5. You may feel free to discuss your case openly at your settlement conference. What you say cannot be repeated at trial. Your discussions at a settlement conference are strictly confidential, and will remain so. Unless you consent, the matters discussed at the settlement conference, and during any negotiations, shall not be disclosed to anyone. You must never mention the settlement conference during the actual trial.
6. The role of the judicial officer at a settlement conference is to listen to your story, to deal with any procedural problems, and to give you his or her opinion of how your case will likely be decided if it goes to trial. That opinion will be based on their experience as a lawyer, judge or deputy judge. You have the right to know what that opinion is, and you also have the right to ignore that opinion. However, you should carefully consider what they say because their opinion is based upon years of experience.
7. There are many good reasons why parties should try to settle their dispute before going to trial:
a) It saves time;
b) It saves money;
c) It avoids the stresses of a trial; and
d) It gives you the power to resolve your dispute on your own, rather than have a stranger resolve it for you.
8. There is no obligation to settle. However, you owe it to yourselves to think about it. A good settlement is one where both parties have engaged in a fair compromise.
9. Before you appear at your settlement conference, you are encouraged to talk to the other side, to see if you can settle all or any part of your dispute, or if you can agree on any facts.
Osgoode Hall, June 21, 2012
Superior Court of Justice, Office of the Chief Justice