Case management is an effective procedure that can help cases progress through the court system. It is available to litigants in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor. At one time it was required in almost all actions in Toronto. At present it is an opt in procedure only. It is an opportunity that Toronto litigation lawyers should take advantage of to move their cases through the court system efficiently. A litigant must seek judicial case management by way of a motion to the court. It may also be ordered by the court on its own initiative. It is available only when circumstances demonstrate a need for the court’s intervention. Even then it will only be used to the degree that is appropriate. The overriding principle calls for the greater share of the responsibility for managing the proceeding and moving it expeditiously to trial to remain with the litigants.
Case management can provide for timetabling of the interlocutory procedures of a law suit and the monitoring of compliance with the timetable by the court. It thereby permits a more orderly and timely progression of an action to trial.
Criteria for the use of Judicial Case Management
While the litigants may consent to have their legal action case managed it will only be ordered if certain criteria are met. The criteria include:
1. The purpose of the rule.
2. The complexity of the issues of fact or law.
3. The importance to the public of the issues of fact or law.
4. The number and type of parties or prospective parties, and whether they are represented.
5. The number of proceedings involving the same or similar parties or causes of action.
6. The amount of intervention by the court that the proceeding is likely to require.
7. The time required for discovery, if applicable, and for preparation for trial or hearing.
8. In the case of an action, the number of expert witnesses and other witnesses.
9. The time required for the trial or hearing.
10. Whether there has been substantial delay in the conduct of the proceeding.
Clearly not every case will fit into these parameters. Those legal actions that do will reap the benefit of having judicial supervision through the case management system. This involvement in the progress of the case will help in dealing with recalcitrant litigants, delays and other technical obstacles in achieving pre-trial disclosure and readiness for trial.
An important feature of case management is the judicial case conference. At a case conference the presiding judicial official, whether a master or a judge, can:
(a) identify the issues and note those that are contested and those that are not;
(b) explore methods to resolve the contested issues;
(c) if possible, secure the parties’ agreement on a specific schedule of events in the proceeding;
(d) establish a timetable for the proceeding; and
(e) review and, if necessary, amend an existing timetable.
The Power of Judicial Case Management
The judicial official also has the power to:
(a) make a procedural order;
(b) convene a pre-trial conference;
(c) give directions; and
(d) in the case of a judge,
(i) make an order for interlocutory relief, or
(ii) convene a hearing.
Toronto Litigation Lawyers
These are all steps that can assist Toronto litigation lawyers in removing obstacles that prevent cases from being ready for trial.