On February 12, 2013, the Court of Queen's Bench released a
memorandum announcing that it will not enforce the Mandatory
Dispute Resolution Rules "until such time as the judicial
complement of the Court and other resources permit
reinstatement." Since their introduction in November 2010,
these Rules have imposed an obligation on all parties to
participate in at least one dispute resolution process before the
Court would allow the matter to proceed to trial. Those processes
a dispute resolution process in the private or government
sectors involving an impartial third person, such as
a Court annexed dispute resolution process;
a judicial dispute resolution process ("JDR");
any program or process designated by the Court.
Viewed through the lens of the foundational rule, the Mandatory
Dispute Resolution Rules (8.4(3)(a) and 8.5(1)) were originally
intended to encourage the parties to identify the issues in dispute
as well as to facilitate early and effective communication between
those parties. As Mahoney J. noted in IBM Canada Limited v.
Kossovan, 2011 ABQB 621, even where a pre-trial dispute
resolution does not settle the entire lawsuit, the Court believes
that participation in the process can prove useful in narrowing the
issues and can thus provide quicker, cheaper access to justice.
Unfortunately, rather than improve accessibility, affordability
and timeliness, the Mandatory Dispute Resolution Rules proved to be
a complicating hurdle to timely resolution of many claims,
particularly where the Defendant disputed liability. Long wait
times for JDR dates combined with the Court's resistance to
grant orders waiving the requirement meant that parties had no
choice but to wait several months for a JDR, or they had to finance
a quicker, albeit more expensive, alternative dispute resolution
process. This added delay and expense to an already slow and
How long it will take the Courts to build up the judicial
complement needed to meet demand for JDRs remains unclear. In the
meantime, parties may enter matters for trial without complying
with Rules 8.4(3)(a) and 8.5(1).
Parties who are otherwise ready for trial should request a trial
date promptly before the backlog of cases waiting for JDR turns
into a backlog of cases awaiting trial. Similarly, parties who, for
whatever reason, do not wish to participate in a dispute resolution
process, should make every effort to ready themselves for trial
before the judiciary reinstates the requirement.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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