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Archive for the ‘Dispute Resolution’ Columns

The Open Court Principle and Mental Health Stigma: What’s the Right Balance?

Early in December, I read a court decision summarily dismissing a lawsuit against a hospital. The plaintiff alleged that the hospital was responsible for putting fleas on his neck that immobilized him, allowing the military to control his mind. The decision was short, to the point, and unremarkable. It is usual in the online world for the author to provide a hyperlink to decisions referred to in the column. I hope that by the end of this column my decision not to hyperlink the decision will be self-evident.

What was striking about this decision was that the plaintiff was identified . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Innovation and the Public Sector – the Need to Work Differently

Innovation is an integral part of the private sector. Why does innovation seem so much harder in the public sector (or in places like the justice system where the public sector/government plays a major role)?

It doesn’t take much reflection to realize that there are quite a few reasons why innovation in the public sector is more challenging and, at the same time, potentially more fulfilling. It is important to identify these unique contextual factors in order to respond to them effectively.

In his 2004 article “System Failure: Why Governments Must Learn to Think Differently”, Jake Chapman observed . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Consumer Arbitration Lessons From South of the Border

The New York Times recently published a pair of scathing articles about the state of arbitration in the United States. The articles focus mainly on the effect of arbitration on consumer and class action litigation and raise important issues of fairness, transparency and access to justice.

Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice (Oct.31, 2015) details how it has become almost impossible for a consumer or small business to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Throwing Out the Baby While Keeping the Bathwater

As we’ve posted in our previous column, this summer, the UNCITRAL working group on ODR – which we have discussed extensively in previous blogs – has been given an ultimatum: “the Working Group was given a time limit of one year or no more than two Working Group sessions to undertake this work, after which the work of the Working Group will come to an end, whether or not a result has been achieved”. In other words, the Working Group will most likely have no more than five months left (the two sessions are scheduled for 30 November-4 December 2015, . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Defending Implicit Reasons: An Expanded Role for Tribunals on Judicial Review?

The Supreme Court recently clarified the rules on the role of a tribunal on a judicial review of one of its decisions: Ontario (Energy Board) v. Ontario Power Generation Inc., 2015 SCC 44 (CanLII). The clarifications are useful for courts in deciding whether to give a tribunal standing. Professor Paul Daly has provided a useful overview of the court’s decision on the standing question. In this column, I want to focus on what the court outlined as the basic parameters of what a tribunal can say to the court, once it is given standing.

Justice Rothstein, writing for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Legal Jargon – Alive and Well in Canada?

We were lucky enough to travel in England and Wales in early October. We travelled by plane, train, tube, bus and taxi (in addition to miles of walking). At the train station in Bath we picked up a copy of “Metro” – a tabloid type newspaper similar, perhaps, to Vancouver’s “24 Hours”. An article caught my eye: “Tough sentences…baffling lingo of courts explained”. An experienced (unnamed) barrister apparently believes that the jargon in the English criminal courtroom is so confusing (even law students cannot understand it) that he penned a colourfully worded dictionary to translate certain well-used phrases. Each phrase . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Does It Include ADR?

Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s keynote address to the Canadian Bar Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting this summer looked at “The Legal Profession in the 21st Century”. (Thanks to Malcom Mercer for posting the text of the Chief Justice’s address — and for the additional insights in his recent Slaw column “Innovate or be Innovated?”)

The Chief Justice talks about many challenges facing the legal profession today. She also talks about the challenge of access to justice. But, sadly, she gives little thought to the role of alternatives to court in addressing either of those challenges. . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The End of ODR

Regular readers of our column may find it ironic that two individuals who have been writing about online dispute resolution (ODR) for years now would announce the death of ODR. Some would find an extra dose of irony in the fact that, in doing so, we took inspiration from the tittle of one of Richard Susskind’s most famous books, in which he heralds ODR as a saving grace for conflict resolution.

We’re obviously not claiming that using online platforms to aid in the resolution of disputes is already a thing of the past, it would go against everything we’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Re-Imagining Self-Help Materials for the Public

While legal-related self-help materials may be “accessible” (available in plain language) they are not always “deployable” (actually used by a person to deal with their legal problem). I learned this lesson the hard way. Recently, I was asked to create a simple list of civil negotiation and conflict resolution “tips” for use by people unrepresented by counsel. I figured this would be a relatively simple task drawing on my legal and mediation background. I also assumed that I could mimic plain language and aimed for a Grade 9 level. I shared my draft with my colleague for comments and, thankfully, . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Adjudicators and Term Limits

Adjudicators who are appointed by cabinet order (variously referred to as Order in Council (OIC) or Governor in Council (GIC) appointees) have very little job security, beyond the term of their appointment. Historically, a reappointment was never guaranteed and the reasons for not being renewed in your position were not provided. The difficulty with a non-transparent system of renewal is that no one (including the adjudicator) knows the reason for a non-renewal.

Ontario instituted a new process for reappointments (or renewals) in 2006. The major reform was to limit appointments to ten years, subject to the recommendation of the Tribunal . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Proposed New “Uniform Arbitration Act” Bears Careful Study

The working group on arbitration legislation of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) has circulated a Discussion Paper on proposed changes to the Uniform Arbitration Act (for domestic arbitrations in Canada). The proposals – and the drafting of the Act – have not yet been reviewed or approved by the ULCC. The goal is the present the proposals to the ULCC at its annual meeting this summer.

This is the second phase of a project that started several years ago to update the ULCC’s Uniform International Commercial Arbitration Act and Uniform Arbitration Act, which have been widely implemented by . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

ODR and the Digital Divide Scarecrow

As many Slaw readers have probably heard, last April, the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario engaged in a Public consultation to explore the possibility of offering an online system for traffic and other infractions. As stated on the Ministry’s website, “Ontario is exploring a new approach that could make the process of disputing certain infractions — like traffic matters — faster, easier and more convenient”.

We would wager that, to most citizens, a “faster, easier and more efficient” system sounds pretty good. However, opponents of the proposed “Online Administrative Monetary Penalty System” (or AMP) . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution