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What changes should be made to family law?

These proposals let family law lawyers discuss and vote on what changes they think should be made to the law or court procedures. The results can be viewed and shared with legislators and the Courts. The proposals put forth are written by member lawyers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or its administrators. You can view more proposals or make a proposal yourself.

Proposal: Concise letter filing deadlines should be a couple of weeks before the hearing, not following the triggering date
Court Procedure - Aug 15th

96% in favour out of 26 votes

Ken Proudman - view Arbitrator profile
BARR LLP (Alberta. Joined 2017)

It used to be that filing deadlines ran backwards from the special chambers hearing, rather than running from the triggering date when special chambers is booked. Back then, we were able to push clients to negotiate by pointing to all of the money that they'd have to spend on us if they didn't reach a resolution. Now litigants tend to be so focused on meeting deadlines and drafting that there seems to be less negotiation during the first couple of months, and then once there's some breathing room, they've spent so much on lawyers that they seem to be more likely to want to see the decision (a sunk costs fallacy).

I understand the rationale of wanting all of the facts on the table so that lawyers can provide proper opinions to their clients, and wanting to decrease adjournments caused by late filing, but delaying the concise letter deadline, and calling them briefs again, would help to promote settlement by creating a cost which clients can avoid if they cooperate. It's also less costly to prepare the concise letter closer to the hearing, because it minimizes the number of times that we have to go through all of the materials and decisions.

2 35 days ago

(Alberta. Joined 2018)

Having lived through both options, I find the current one better. Very recently, I was able to use the concise letter deadline as motivation to settle. It just takes some forethought and time management. I actually found it harder to reach settlement when the initial energy of filing deadlines was put on a 5 month delay. The lawyers had no motivation to think about their case, and then we were having settlement talks two days before the concise letter deadline in any event.

There is so much time between receiving initial instructions, attending family docket, and the concise letter deadline. It should become standard practice that the lawyers plan to get on the phone with eachother shortly after the Reply Affidavit is due. You can ask Family Docket to set the concise letter deadline 3 weeks after the Reply Affidavit so that you have some breathing room.

As I understand it, the whole reason it changed was because the courts were booking tons of Special dates which were being held for months on end. This created a backlog.

- 34 days ago

(Alberta. Joined 2020)

I would like to see a "happy medium" of

1) offer of settlement/position of parties (3 pages) exchanged 2 weeks after trigger date

2)then use the court date and go backwards but have concise letters/brief due at least 2 weeks before court date, affidavits due so that there are typically exchanged 30 days before the concise letters/briefs in case cross exam and transcripts of same are needed.

2 34 days ago

(Alberta. Joined 2019)

I personally far prefer the old way of deadlines working back from the hearing date. I have found most of my recent Special Chambers have done so anyway by filing consent orders to change the deadlines. This does not resolve the issue of people hoarding dates and the resulting backlog. I'm not sure what to do about that, but I'm not sure if the new way has actually alleviated those scheduling pressures in any way. It seems logical and cost effective for parties to use the old way.

1 32 days ago

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