OBA Institute 2014 Civil Litigation – 6 February

What’s in store for civil advocacy in Ontario?

It is a vexing question. No one seems to know the answer.

But here are some things we do know: fewer and fewer cases are reaching trial; fewer and fewer litigators are getting trial experience; more and more cases are being resolved through mediation; there has been no corresponding reduction in the cost of litigation or improvement in the speed of resolving disputes.

A world that offers only mediated, interest-based resolution of civil disputes is a world where the rule of law is weaker, where rights are not robust and predictable.

The theme of these posts has always been that the classical adversarial system of resolving civil disputes is tested and true. It is not the cause of escalating cost. It is not the cause of delays in the judicial system. Although these problems exist and must be dealt with, we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Avoiding the major blockages in the trial system is the focus of the OBA 2014 Institute civil litigation program: picking the issue and streamlining your case; using discoveries efficiently; applying the rules of procedure to accelerate your case to trial; navigating the rules on “setting down” for trial; proceeding outside Toronto; learning from the leaner system of labour arbitrations.

Come and listen to prominent judges and litigators on these topics. See the program here: 14CIV0206C(1) 









  1. Thanks John for your provocative post – I hope it entices many people to attend this important conference!
    You say: “A world that offers only mediated, interest-based resolution of civil disputes is a world where the rule of law is weaker, where rights are not robust and predictable.”
    I don’t know anyone (in the mediation field or otherwise) who is suggesting a system which involves ONLY interest-based mediation. Instead, I believe the experts are promoting a nuanced, triage-based system in which various process options are presented which best meet the nature of the dispute and the needs of the parties. Mediation may be one of the options – and then, there are multiple styles of mediation which could bit the bill.
    I know you were hoping to generate some controversy – did I take the bait well??

    Thanks again

  2. I personally find Mr O’Sullivan tiresome in his one-note rants against mediation and his worship of litigated-right-through-to-judgment dispute resolution. Parties to civil litigation may – and almost always do – settle cases before the end of trial. No one is required to carry a test case through to a reported decision, however much outside observers might wish they would.

    Providing for early and expert mediation improves the chances that people settle because their interests are satisfied, rather than because they have run out of money, energy or enthusiasm for what can be a very protracted litigation process.

    Justice Farley helped set up Ontario’s ADR Centre in 1993 in what is now Ontario’s Superior Court. (That initiative matured into the mandatory mediation program.) I don’t think anybody thought he was a wimp, or uninterested in the law. He used to say that at least half the cases that settled did so for the wrong reason, i.e. not because the parties got a mutually satisfying deal.

    I trust that the OBA sessions will feature some lawyers who work in the interests of their client in resolving disputes by whatever means works best.

  3. Many thanks to Mr Gregory and Ms Boyle for their comments. I have responded in my post today.