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Archive for the ‘Dispute Resolution’ Columns

“As Smooth as a Grape”: Style in Decision Writing

Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.

Matthew Arnold

Decision makers have to focus on the substance of the dispute before them and do the important and sometimes difficult work of coming to the right decision. But after that, it remains for them to write the decision clearly and concisely. This is where style in writing takes on such a critical role. If the people reading . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution – Why Early Planning Makes Sense

When our family is planning a vacation we usually figure out our desires and needs, research the options, consider factors such as time, cost and availability and then map out our adventure. In case something goes wrong, we also make sure our travel and medical insurance are up to date and make sure our loved ones know our itinerary. Our recent trip to Mexico made me wonder why it isn’t more common for lawyers and business people to take the same approach to planning for business relationships and contracts.

Based on my informal discussions with lawyers and the business community . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

UNCITRAL Adopts Technical Notes on ODR

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) met for one last time between February 29th to March 4th 2016 to put the finishing touches to UNCITRAL’s Technical Notes on Dispute Resolution, and, in the same breath, complete the mandate – or should we say revised mandate – it had been given by the commission.

As regular readers will remember, the working group was originally given a very broad mandate back in 2010. As stated in document A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.105:

“After discussion, the Commission established a working group to undertake work

. . . [more]
Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The Problem With Experts

Litigation and arbitration are teeming with experts these days.

There are technical experts to explain what happened. Others to say whose fault it was. And another bunch to quantify the damages.

Almost every sizable case has at least one expert on the witness list. Well, never just one. Each side must have their own expert. And, of course, they never agree.

That’s the problem with experts. Recent studies have shown that people have a very hard time understanding what experts say and giving appropriate weight to conflicting expert opinions. Adjudicators are no different from anyone else.

Derek Koehler, a psychology . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The Limits of Active Adjudication: Tales From the Front Lines

Active adjudication is an approach to dispute resolution that puts more emphasis on the role of the adjudicator in focusing the issues in dispute and the process for resolving those issues. It stands in contrast to the classic adversarial model of dispute resolution that puts more emphasis on the parties shaping the matters in dispute and the evidence required to prove their case. Active adjudication has many advantages for access to justice. I have written about this before. Active adjudication can result in shorter processes as well as levelling the playing field, to some extent, for self-represented parties.

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The Missing Ingredient for Effective Health Care Reform…Empathy

For some years I have been following Dr. Brian Goldman, a veteran ER physician and one of Canada’s most trusted medical broadcasters. His CBC radio show “White Coat, Black Art” tackles tough issues, makes sense of “bafflegab” and highlights important new innovations. His book “The Secret Language of Doctors” is an illuminating view inside of the medical system and a great read.

I went to his Vancouver Institute lecture in Vancouver in January entitled: “Disrupt Me + Engage You: The Health Care Revolution”. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say about system change in the health . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Med-Arb: The Debate Continues

A couple years ago Slaw columnists Kari D. Boyle and Ian Mackenzie collaborated on a pair of excellent articles on Med-Arb – Kerri from the mediator perspective and Ian from the adjudication perspective.

These articles insightfully highlight many of the legal, ethical and practical issues surrounding the idea of having a single person act as both mediator and arbitrator – issues that continue to be hotly debated among mediators and arbitrators.

Med-arb has become widely accepted in labour, family and other areas. The main reason is efficiency.

There are many different models of med-arb. All of them rest on . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Technological Procurement as a Component of Judicial Independence

On January 6th, 2016, different media outlets reported that a certain number of federal courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, were contesting the issue of a decree (2015-1071) stating that procurement for government IT services now needs to go through Shared Services Canada. As specified in the decree: “a department listed in Schedule I, I.1 or II of the Financial Administration Act must obtain the services specified in paragraph (b) exclusively from the Minister designated for the purposes of the Shared Services Canada Act through Shared Services Canada and is not permitted to . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

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