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Attached are the notes from the January 13, 2021 meeting between Justices of the Court of Queen's Bench and representatives from the Family Bar.
I can confirm that the Court is aware of the significant problems we are experiencing as a result of delayed filing (especially in Edmonton) right now. The Court is working on addressing the filing backlog but unfortunately, there are limits to how quickly this can be accomplished given the limited clerk resources available.
The Court is open to (and is soliciting) feedback from members of the family bar regarding current court processes. If there are changes that can be made to help our clients better access the Court and more efficiently utilize court resources the Justices want to hear from us.
I attend these meetings as the representative of the CBA Family (North) Section. If anyone wants to email me about specific concerns or suggestions, I am happy to present these items to the Court at future meetings. firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone else wondering why the biggest complaint of family lawyers now... the complete waste of time and resources for represented clients - docket court, is given absolutely no mention at all? Is it a lack of advocacy of our representatives, or an intentional avoidance by the audience?
Wayne -- I actually disagree with you about Family Docket. I think it's a positive development and with an eventual resolution to the issue of delays in securing dates and filing etc, I believe Docket will feel less cumbersome.
The fact that we do not have to file an Application beforehand, and that we can have a much better idea as to any Cross Application before filing, the helpfulness of EICCs (in many cases), the fact that we can tailor deadlines right then and there; the fact that we get access to hearing dates right then and there, and just moving forward without having to do the more significant legal work of an Application and Affidavit -- are just some of the benefits. And so long as Docket remains online - If you have a double monitor you can easily multi-task from the comfort of your office while waiting.
I appreciate that many lawyers do not need Docket to determine the most appropriate path forward forward and Docket may feel like or actually be an extra step, but overall don't we all (even those us of who try to be as procedurally collaborative and reasonable as possible) find ourselves on files with opposing counsel who are not so collaborative or reasonable? Or dealing with rogue self reps??
I am guessing that more matters are never making it to the Application stage after Docket.
Concerns have been raised about the delay in accessing family docket court, how long family docket court sittings take, and the desire some lawyers have expressed to be able to bypass family docket court where both parties are represented. The issue may not have been addressed in detail at this particular meeting but the Court is aware of the concerns from previous meetings. The message we receive from the Court is that they are committed to the family docket court process, are working to improve it and reduce lead times, and since court resources remain limited due to the pandemic a triage process remains necessary. The court encourages counsel to do what we can to speed the process up (like talk to one another beforehand and come with a plan to suggest, turn your mind to whether a procedural or disclosure order is necessary beforehand and what information is required, avoid attempts to seek substantive relief, etc.) Given the court's commitment to the family docket court process I think our advocacy is best directed at suggesting ideas to improve the process - since it's not likely to be going away. I'm always open to receiving suggestions and passing those on (email@example.com). If you take a look at the minutes from the February meeting which I will post shortly, you'll see that Chief Justice Moreau is open to receiving feedback from counsel directly as well. (If it's a clerk related issue, she asks that the clerk's office be cc'ed).