Being a Plaintiff who is not familiar with the civil justice system is very frustrating.
For starters, you’ve needed to retain a lawyer and sue in Court to get the results you need. Because you’ve commenced a legal action, then we can presume that you’ve exhausted every other recourse and Court is your last option. It would have been far easier and less expensive to keep the lawyers out of your dispute and work things out between the parties. The nice thing about working things out without lawyers and without the Court is that you get to control the process and you don’t have to jump through the hoops which the Court sets down. These hoops can an tricky for lawyers and for self represented litigants alike. All of these points are blown out the door if you can’t find a lawyer to take on your case. In that situation, you’re on your own; left alone to navigate the legal system on your own. The great abyss lies ahead. You can expect countless hours in your local library in the future, along with many sleepless nights.
One of the most frustrating things for the clients at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers is coming to the realization that the legal process isn’t anywhere near as fast as we see on TV.
The microwave generation is use to hitting a button, and the fully cooked roast popping out within seconds. The same applies on TV. Shows like Law & Order or Suits show a case being fully tried from start to finish in an hour television show.
The cold hard truth is that legal cases are marathons. They are painstakingly SLOW, and there’s little a Plaintiff can do about it.
These procedural hurdles as our lawyers like to call them are probably more frustrating than the hurdles of the actual case. This is because you expect pushback from the Defence in your case. You expect a Defendant to defend. If they didn’t want to Defend, they would have agreed with the Plaintiffs by now and settled the case. What you don’t expect is pushback or delays from the Court. It’s something you can’t prepare for.
But, there is a slight glimmer of hope.
Effective February 1, 2019, the civil Courts in Ontario are experimenting with a Case Management project. This is introducing case management to all Courts in Ontario. Currently, case management is available only in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor. This project intends to bring case management across the province. It will be re-evaluated in 2 years.
What case management will do?
- A judge that has been assigned to case-manage an action will preside over all pre-trial hearings, case management conferences, and the trial. This will allow the judge to become entirely familiar with the issues in the dispute. The only exception is for case conferences that are dedicated solely to settlement discussions; a different judge will preside over these case conferences in order to allow the parties to freely discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case and discuss the parties’ willingness to compromise their positions in an effort to find common ground.
- No formal interlocutory motions will be scheduled in cases assigned to the pilot without the approval of the case management judge. Instead, informal procedures will be used wherever possible to resolve interlocutory disputes, such as meetings with counsel and self-represented parties in the judge’s chambers or by teleconference. (Exception: motions for recusal would not require the approval of the case management judge.)
- At a relatively early stage of the proceeding, the case management judge will fix a trial date, or order a trial to be heard in a particular sitting of the court, and impose a schedule for completing necessary steps prior to trial. The trial date would be adjourned only in exceptional circumstances and would require the approval of the case management judge. For efficiency in the scheduling or conduct of the trial, the case management judge may make pre-trial orders concerning the admissibility of trial evidence.
The expected benefits of one-judge case management are the faster and less costly resolution of civil disputes.
When determining whether to include a case in the pilot, similar to Rule 77, the Regional Senior Judge or his or her designate will take into consideration a variety of factors, including:
- The complexity of the issues of fact or law
- The importance to the public of the issues of fact or law
- The number and type of parties or prospective parties, and whether they are represented
- The number of proceedings involving the same or similar parties or causes of action
- The amount of intervention by the court that the proceeding is likely to require
- The time required for discovery, if applicable, and for preparation for trial or hearing
- In the case of an action, the number of expert witnesses and other witnesses
- The time required for the trial or hearing
- Whether there has been substantial delay in the conduct of the proceeding.
How do you get your case included in the Case Management Project?
All your lawyer needs to do is fill out a form and secure the consent of the parties to the litigation. Here is a link where you can get the case management request form.
What does this mean for personal injury cases?
It means a heck of a lot. Instead of having the Plaintiff’s case at the mercy of the Courts, or at the mercy of delay tactics by Defence Counsel, there will now be a Judge who has knowledge of the case overlooking it to ensure that it moves expeditiously. It also may reduce costs because there are supposed to be fewer motions and less procedural delay. All of this in theory should spell a win for the Plaintiff in terms of advancing his/her claim from start to finish. If all moves well; then perhaps real life personal injury cases will move with the speed we see the cases move on TV shows like Law & Order or Suits (but without all the Hollywood drama).