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Archive for the ‘Dispute Resolution’ Columns

Adjudicators in the Community: New Frontiers in Apprehension of Bias

Justice Sopinka famously said (in 1989) that judges are not monks (although he should also have said nuns) and can have a role to play in their communities. He was writing in the (mostly) pre-internet era, where social interaction within communities was largely hidden from public view. With the prevalence of the internet, community involvement of judges and adjudicators has become more transparent. Two recent court decisions help to illustrate different views on how adjudicators can engage in their community — both in-person and virtually — and may help to focus a public discussion on reasonable limits to social media . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Practical Tips for the Brain in Conflict

As part of the BCAMI Symposium held June 8 and 9 2015 in Vancouver, Jean Greatbatch conducted a workshop entitled the “Neuroscience of Conflict”. Jean is an experienced mediator and arbitrator with a special focus on workplace conflict, a member of the board of Mediate BC Society and a busy conflict consultant. She completed her LLM in Conflict Resolution at Osgoode and wrote her thesis on the topic of how the brain deals with conflict. In this post I will provide some highlights of her fascinating and insightful presentation. In 90 minutes she managed to provide a great overview of . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Urgent Interim Relief Available Under New ADRIC Arbitration Rules

One of the new features of the updated ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) Arbitration Rules, which came into effect at the end of 2014, is the express provision for “Urgent Interim Measures”.

Unlike Superior Court judges, arbitrators have no inherent jurisdiction. They depend upon the Act and the arbitration agreement for their jurisdiction. In some situations, it has been unclear whether an arbitrator has the authority to grant interim relief. In others, delays in the appointment of the arbitrator made it impossible to obtain urgent relief. If parties have to go to court for such relief, it may result in . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Are Private Prevention and Resolution Processes the New Dilatory Exceptions?

We’ve always found it somewhat confusing and nonsensical that Quebec’s soon to be former Code of Civil Procedure contains a section titled “dilatory exceptions”, i.e. procedures “intended to cause delay”. At a time when we are constantly reminded that access to justice is hindered by costly procedures and long delays, and that we should find ways to streamline the legal process, it seems incongruous to actually draft dispositions that allow for longer delays and higher costs at one party’s behest. This is not to say that sections 168 and ss. of the Code of Civil Procedure don’t have . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Book Review: Bernie Mayer, “The Conflict Paradox – Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes”

The more conflict escalates, the more human beings tend to characterize the issues as black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. The sad truth is that with more intensity, our thinking becomes less complex and we are less able to see all of the possibilities and to engage effectively. We are attracted to polarities, probably for their simplicity, bit life is not binary – it is complex and full of grey.

In his new book, “The Conflict Paradox – Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes” (2015, Jossey-Bass), Bernie Mayer explores the mystery of this complexity in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Style in Decision Writing: Guidance for Adjudicators

“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”

Oscar Wilde

“Originality in the law is viewed with scepticism. It is only the arrogant fool or the truly gifted who will depart entirely from the established template and reformulate an existing idea in the belief that in doing so they will improve it. While over time incremental changes occur, the wholesale abandonment of established expression is generally considered foolhardy.”

Duncan Webb, ‘Plagiarism: A Threat to Lawyers’ Integrity?’ (2009), International Bar Association

Reasons for decisions are the windows into the decision making process. Reasons should ensure . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

UNCITRAL’s Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution Is All but Done

Between February 9th and 13th, 2015, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Working Group III held its 31st session, the 10th session devoted to “the preparation of legal standards on online dispute resolution” (ODR) and, most probably, the last. After close to fifty days of negotiations (over five years), United States and European delegates proposed that the Working Group cease its work on ODR and redirect its resources to projects that had a better chance at reaching a successful outcome since discussions had been at a stalemate for a few sessions. . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Ontario Joins Wider Move Toward Online Dispute Resolution to Ease Court Burdens

As John Gregory reported in a recent SLAW post, the Ontario government is looking at online dispute resolution (ODR) for a variety of provincial offences. The system could start with minor traffic offences, and be expanded to other provincial and municipal offences, such as parking and by-law violations.

The proposal reflects a growing trend toward ODR for both civil and administrative matters.

The Ontario consultation document notes the high cost of dealing with provincial offences, with about 1.6 million charges laid annually. In Toronto alone, for example, provincial offences courts cost about $50 million a year, plus $5.5 million . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

What Does a “user-centred” Approach Really Mean??

It is common now for those promoting justice reform to urge a “client-centred” or “user-centred” approach. But what does it really mean to take a “user-centred” approach? Is it enough for justice insiders to take their own understanding of the client experience into account or to invite one or more ‘users’ of the system to participate in reform discussions? Just how do we truly obtain the perspective of those using (or wanting to use) the justice system?

Once again, we can look outside our own sector for clues.

Example #1 – Business

The business world has been focusing for hundreds . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Past Lives and Allegations of Bias

Adjudicators all come from somewhere and sometimes those past lives can intrude on the adjudication process. Parties who raise issues of conflict of interest based on a past role of an adjudicator usually frame that objection as an allegation of an apprehension of bias.

The test for reasonable apprehension of bias is well known. I have written about bias in the context of active adjudication previously. The legal test for a reasonable apprehension of bias is whether an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically and having thought the matter through, would think that it is more likely . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

ODR to Become the Norm in Quebec?

In all honesty, our title is somewhat (and voluntarily) misleading. There is no clear sign that online dispute resolution is going to be the norm in the near future in Quebec – or anywhere else in Canada for that matter. Even in British-Columbia, where the much talked about Civil Resolution Tribunal should finally launch later this year, it’s doubtful that the judicial process will transfer online for other courts and tribunals any time soon. “Then why the misleading title?”, you may ask. Because recent legislative changes in Quebec have paved the way for ODR service providers to make great strides . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

New Year, New Arbitration Rules

The ADR Institute of Canada has adopted new arbitration rules, which came into effect in December 2014. The new Rules are significant because they apply to any new arbitration commenced under the ADR Institute rules after December 1. Although the Rules are designed mainly for domestic commercial arbitration, they can also be used for international and non-commercial disputes.

First adopted in 2002 to provide a comprehensive set of national arbitration rules, the last major revision of the Rules was in 2008. The new Rules are the product of an in-depth review and broad consultation that began in 2012. This . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution