To what extent should judges be involved in mediation?
The Chief Justice of Ontario addressed this thorny issue in The Advocate's Journal, Winter 2010. He considers it from the perspective of the public, the bar and the bench, provides a brief history of judicial involvement in settlement discussions, adumbrates the arguments for and against judicial mediation, and asks whether it is a reality or a fantasy.
There are so many issues.
How would it be different from the pretrial rule which is designed "to provide an opportunity for any or all of the issues in a proceeding to be settled without a hearing"?
Should judicial mediation be given official status? Should it be interest based or rights based?
Should judges be meeting with one side in the absence of the other?
Does judicial mediation undermine the judiciary as society's ultimate impartial arbiters?
See this interview with Hon. Richard Scott the Chief Justice of Manitoba and chair of the Canadian Judicial Council's Judicial Conduct Committee.
The debates rages on.
It is fascinating to see how widely the mandate varies across Canada – see this Lawyers Weekly article.
In January of this year the OBA struck a task force to study the issue. Here is its Mission Statement.
A Policy Day on this topic will be held at the OBA conference centre on 9 December 2011. Check the OBA website for further details.