What changes should be made to family law?

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Proposal: Case Management works well
Court Procedure - Jan 26, 2022

71% in favour out of 7 votes

Ken Proudman Executive
 view Arbitrator profile
   Edmonton, Alberta

This time the QB Family Law Consulting Committee is seeking feedback regarding file management at the Court. They're looking for both criticism and praise of what does work well, and any suggestions about how to improve the process. I will pass along your feedback, or you're welcome to provide feedback directly to Teri Burant at or 780-970-6291. Please provide feedback by February 2, 2022.

0 2 years ago

Ken Proudman Executive
 view Arbitrator profile
   Edmonton, Alberta

Didn't they announce no new case management during the pandemic? Or is this back now?

1 2 years ago

Anonymous 2017
   Edmonton Region, Alberta

They still do case management. And the only feedback I would give is that it’s usually only as good as the judge. But so useful that you dont have to go explaining matters again to a new judge every time you are in court and have curveballs thrown. I think most contentious matters should be case managed. Someone i authority needs to just announce themselves every once in a while and tell people to behave and make decisions about what needs to be done next. But many of our judges are otherwise tied up hearing trials and applications that are usually crapshoots given how little they actually become aware of in the time they have.

2 2 years ago

Shannon L. Allison
  Allison Law Office
   Edmonton, Alberta

I did not think case management was available in Edmonton right now. I remember seeing the notification Ken was talking about. When did that change?

0 2 years ago

Anonymous 2018
   Calgary Region, Alberta

I have been in case management several times with several different Justices. In my opinion, it is a failed program and should remain extinct.

In my experience, Case Management meetings were hard to obtain, and the clients were stuck without remedies for prolonged periods of time.

The idea behind Case Management was for the Justice to help move the matters forward to Trial. This is useful in circumstances where the opposing lawyers (or self-reps) could not agree on a litigation plan, or where they were spinning their wheels with Interim Applications.

In Practice, I found that Case Management became a highly contentious form of Parenting Coordination where endless Interim Applications were made to the same (very busy) Justice, who had no option but to treat these meetings like lengthy Morning Chambers Applications.

Nothing moved forward, it just festered. And worse, there was an underlying game of "get on the Justice's good side".

Case Management can be replaced with Applications for Procedural Orders. It's already the case that parties must not spin their wheels with Interim Orders (see AF v. DS, 2022 ABCA 20). But since nobody is following that rule, parties can apply for procedural orders to move matters to Trial and bar interim applications (except emergencies). Alternatively, the Court can make those same procedural Orders on its own initiative upon observing that the parties are returning to Court on interim applications too often.

Regarding Case Management's de facto use as a Parenting Coordination program, I propose that Parenting Coordination (run by professionals) ought to be a more available tool to the public. If this were an option, I would send most of my clients to a PC to deal with their smaller issues.

I don't have the money-solution, but I figure if the government is going to spend funds on Case Management, then those funds can be redirected to subsidized Parenting Coordination.

0 2 years ago

Anonymous 2017
   Calgary Region, Alberta

My own experience with case management has not been good.

One, we worked hard to apply for it on the basis of the matter being high conflict, complex, etc., and the other side said not needed as both counsel senior and simple issues.

The application went in before the change in limiting case management announced in the practice note and we were denied case management as it was senior counsel. The letter wasn't even addressed to me but to a different lawyer at a different firm so it made me wonder if any thought was actually given to it. Nothing in the letter suggested our material had even been read.

if the court was so certain senior counsel didn't need case management why do they think senior counsel was asking??

This is one where i think the Court was too busy to read the material and consider it and didn't give it the proper attention.

plus the rules changed while our application was pending. (if we had known in advance the application might not have been made or made in a different way to take into account the new rule)
And of course within a month of that counsel opposite files their third try at advanced costs on the basis of the complexity and high conflict in the case. (Really?)

On the other we did get a good case management justice (unrep on the other side who was mentally ill, but 'competent'). But were pushed over to case management counsel who was very skilled at what they did, it just took all day to do what the justice would have done in 5 minutes.

And then we got kicked out because of covid. After all the cost and work to get in and get it set up they said just do it again, please if you want to come back??

i.e. a complete waste of money, brains and time.

I read all these cases where case management justices are making things happen and would gladly take part in that on the appropriate case, but my two attempts just didn't work out.

0 2 years ago

Anonymous 2021
   Other Region, Alberta

I have been disappointed in recent case conferences. That’s what they are calling it now. I’m told the Clerks have been directed not to book Case Management but they will book case conferences. I have a situation where the opposing party is clearly doing some shenanigans — hiding assets etc. The case management judge did absolutely nothing. We had clear evidence. Opposing counsel objected to my Agenda — the judge said next time file an Affidavit — the next time we did that and opposing counsel objected again — and the Judge did nothing. There were clear and consistent violations of previous court orders and nothing happened.

Another case conference I had at least got the attention of opposing counsel who was ignoring my letters and at least we got a JDR date imposed. But again, no costs for having to push it that far.

Judges need to quit being so conciliatory in case conferences. We are there because we aren’t able to resolve these issues. They don’t seem to get that we actually try to do that. We are there because we need some heavy handed sticks. They need to start doing that.

1 23 months ago

Mathieu Maillet Executive
   Edmonton, Alberta

I have found that case management can lead to success so long as:
- the parties are willing to collaborate;
- the Justice is willing to provide strong opinions on the direction of the matter such that the parties have an idea of their outcome in court; and
- The lawyers are able to separate themselves from positional language and behaviour during the case conference.

Success at a case conference is really dependent on all these factors coming together. I have found that the best lawyers cannot settle if the clients are overly positional and aggressive. The best clients cannot settle if one or both lawyers cannot put down their swords for a moment. Willing parties and counsel cannot settle if a Justice is unwilling to provide a guiding opinion which motivates the clents toward settlement.

I would hesitate to call it a failed program or an absolute success. I believe it is as successful as it can be given the factors involved. It could be more successful if there was clear policy and direction as to the role of each individual, including the role of the Justice.

0 18 months ago

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