20 March 2010

Proving Agreements Made at JCCs

Judicial Case Conferences in the Supreme Court are held on a confidential, in camera and off-the-record basis so that the parties can more effectively explore settlement options, without worrying that they'll be held to a settlement proposal later on. This system usually works quite well, but what happens if people disagree on the terms of an agreement reached at a JCC? How do you prove the terms of an agreement reached at an off-the-record conference?

Normally, the court clerk records the terms of any agreements reached or orders made at a JCC. These are printed out and signed by the parties (or their lawyers) and the judge or master who heard the JCC. The first step to avoiding confusion later on is to make sure that the clerk's record is clear and accurate. If you see an error or an ambiguity, ask to have the record clarified before you leave the JCC. No one will complain, as long as you're being reasonable and not trying to re-argue a point.

If you discover an error or an ambiguity later, and the other side doesn't agree with your recollection of the JCC, you'll have to listen to the tape of the proceedings at the JCC. However, because JCCs are confidential, you don't have the automatic right to listen to the tape of the JCC the way you'd be able to listen to the tape of other court hearings, like proceedings in chambers, and you'll have to make an application for permission to listen to the tape and have a transcript made.

If the transcript backs up your recollection, the other side really ought to agree and that should be the end of it. If not, you'll have to make a second application for an order on the terms of the agreement reached at the JCC, using the transcript of the JCC to support your application.

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