07 May 2019

Victoria Pilot Project – Mandatory consensual dispute resolution to include the collaborative process

The BC Collaborative Roster Society is pleased to confirm that on March 29, 2019, (to come into effect on May 13, 2019) the B.C. legislature passed an order in council to amend the Provincial Court Family Rules. The amendment adds a section 5.01 to the Rules, titled: “Early Resolution and Case Management Model”. The “Early Resolution Requirements” will apply at first only to the Victoria registry (as a type of pilot project). The Early Resolution and Case Management Model sets out specific rules which will require any party wishing to commence litigation to first engage in mandatory consensual dispute resolution unless screened out as an inappropriate case to do so. Consensual dispute resolution is defined to be mediation, collaborative process or facilitated negotiation with a Family Justice Services Division officer.

This is an enormous step forward for collaborative process and more importantly, for separated families.  This pilot project is almost certainly just the beginning of other provincial court registries being designated Early Resolution and Case management Registries. This is the beginning of statutory change to help implement the Family law Act’s “resolution out of court preferred” and, if successful, may provide a model for the Supreme Court level.

In drafting the new legislation for the pilot project, the government members drafting the legislation consulted directly with a group of senior Collaborative Family Law lawyers, including several members of the board of the Roster Society.  The drafters were very responsive to the concerns raised by us about ensuring that the new Rules mean parties are referred to competent Collaborative Law practitioners and are screened appropriately.  We have had direct input into the language in the new Rules and into the forms which will be required to be executed by Collaborative professionals as part of the mandatory CDR process.

This is, and has been, an important objective of the Roster Society.  We are focused on the growth and development of the collaborative process and feared that if the collaborative process was not specifically identified in mandatory consensual dispute resolution, it (the collaborative process) would not grow and flourish and would be side-lined to mediation.  We believe that this is the first statutory change in North America to require an attempt, prior to litigating, at consensual dispute resolution as opposed to simply mandatory mediation  Stay tuned.  This is a very exciting day for collaborative process and for the future for separated families. 

Click here for a link to Order In Council No. 137, Approved and Ordered March 29, 2019