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Archive for the ‘Dispute Resolution’ Columns

Get Up to Date News About Unbundled Legal Services and Legal Coaching in BC and Beyond

The BC Family Unbundling Roster currently has over 200 Roster members across the province. The BC Family Justice Innovation Lab administers the Roster and publishes a newsletter to Roster members and other subscribers that describes helpful tips about unbundling and developments in the field.

In the August 2023 newsletter you will find details about:

  1. An update on the Unbundled Legal Services Research Project Phase 2/Phase 3
  2. Roster member Sonali Sharma receives CBABC Innovation Award
  3. Jamie Maclaren KC honoured for his inspiring leadership including of the Everyone Legal Clinic which provides services on an unbundled basis
  4. A Slaw post linking unbundling
. . . [more]
Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Administrative Law After Vavilov: What’s Changed for Decision-Makers?

Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing…

“Is that all there is”, song by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

Administrative law can be complicated. The Supreme Court of Canada in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65, tried to uncomplicate the law. Professor Paul Daly in his new book, A Culture of Justification: Vavilov and the Future of Administrative Law, outlines how well the court succeeded.

In 180 pages, he does a good job of situating Vavilov in the historical evolution of judicial review of administrative action. . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Stay in Your Lane

Dear Reader: The following column contains references to popular music of the mid-1990s. To heighten your reading experience, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the lead single from Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album, along with the catalog of “Weird” Al Yankovic. It also would not hurt to hear Warren G’s Regulate, an anthem of the G-Funk era. But for that of Yankovic, the music referenced contains explicit lyrics and deals with mature subject matter that may not be suitable for everyone. Listener discretion is advised.


It was the summer of 2022. Social media was abuzz.

An Alanis Morissette . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Stop Assessing Credibility Outside of the Box: Why Adjudicators Should Only Consider Demeanour of a Witness While on the Witness Stand

Assessing credibility is a critical role for adjudicators, in many cases. How to assess credibility requires its own book, but in this column, I will focus on the inappropriateness of relying on the facial and physical reactions (otherwise known as demeanour) of a party when they are not on the witness stand.

The relevance of demeanour is a persistent myth in adjudication. Even though studies have shown that our ability to judge whether someone is lying solely by their demeanour is about 50% (no better than a coin toss), it still is considered by the courts to be a factor . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Youth Voices – Raising Awareness Through Art

For the past four years, Youth Voices [Note 1] worked with Deer Crossing the Art Farm (Gibsons BC) on an initiative to raise awareness of the need to provide meaningful participation and voice to kids experiencing parental separation. On May 25, 2023, this partnership launched “Seen and Heard” – both a physical art installation and a digital platform for children and young people to tell their stories .

For four days, the art installation was located in the plaza outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery, near to the BC Provincial and Supreme courthouses. It presented two colourful little houses, each . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Baby, Don’t Forget My Number (My Mediation Count)

Back in the day, signs posted outside McDonald’s would list the number of customers they had served. While the fast food chain stopped this practice years ago, some mediators are still doing it. My question is why.

What Does the Number of Mediations a Mediator Has Conducted Tell Us?

When it comes to the mediator’s skill and competence, Elton Simoes, President of the ADR Institute of Canada, does not believe a mediation count tells us enough. Simoes says it is important for a mediator to be aware of which types of cases they can be effective in. Not . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Words Matter: The Role of Language in Dispute Resolution

“Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. … [The English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. …”

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”

. . . [more]
Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The Unique Value of Lawyers in the Legal Process: Why AI Will Never Replace the Human Touch

This post was co-created by Kari Boyle and Matt Sims, with help from ChatGPT.

“How do we create value that is distinct from what machines can do faster and cheaper? The answers will shape our future.” Greg Satell, Note 1

The legal profession is experiencing a transformational shift, with AI and automation changing the way legal services are delivered. However, despite the advancements in technology, there are still essential aspects of the lawyer/client relationship that only a human lawyer can provide. In this article, we will discuss the unique value provided by lawyers and how lawyers can identify and build . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Can’t Fight This Feeling: The Role of Emotion in Mediation Advocacy

I’ve observed a trend. It involves the feelings of legal advocates coming into play during mediation. This is often presented as an emotional tie to the client, passion about the collaborative opportunity or being personally dedicated to finding a fair outcome. While I am not sure this is planned strategy, it suggests a ‘heart on one’s sleeve’ fashion in mediation representation.

If you want to paint a mental picture, or otherwise embrace a stereotype about the emotional type of lawyer I am referring, consider Angry Dad from The Simpsons as counsel at your mediation. A male-presenting legal advocate who would . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Under the Influence: Ministers (And Others) Communicating With Tribunals

Members of Parliament are expected to advocate for their constituents. However, when that MP is a Minister of the Crown (or a Parliamentary Secretary) there are limits on how far that advocacy can go.

Interference by a Minister in a particular case before a tribunal has long been considered as an inappropriate interference with tribunal independence. This self-evident rule of non-interference was recognized in a document prepared by the federal government in 2015: Open and Accountable Government: “Ministers must not intervene, or appear to intervene, with tribunals on any matter requiring a decision in their quasi-judicial capacity, except as . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

“Justice Is the Instrument, but Love Is the Motive”

Many of us work in support of Access to Justice. A2J is an important response to injustice. But why do we do it? What compels us to strive to work in this field? What sustains us in this work?

For most of us it is certainly not financial reward (although there is undoubtedly money to be made by inventing and selling new tools and processes). It may be a need to “give back” out of gratitude for our experience as professionals in the justice system. It may feel like a moral or ethical calling. Perhaps it is all of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Appeal Courts Say “Hands Off” Arbitration

One of the main reasons to choose arbitration is that parties want a decision that’s final and binding. Until they lose. Then they want a court to give them a do-over to fix the arbitrator’s terrible mistakes.

Two recent decisions by the Courts of Appeal in British Columbia and Ontario remind us that the parties should get what they bargained for, “final” means final, and courts should not intervene except in exceptional situations.

In Spirit Bay Developments Limited Partnership v. Scala Developments Consultants Ltd. (2022 BCCA 407) the B.C. Court of Appeal said the court should not intervene, even . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution