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Family Law Rules – Rule 17: Conferences

Angela Princewill

November 14, 2015

RULE 17:  CONFERENCES

CONFERENCES IN DEFENDED CASES

17. (1) Subject to subrule (1.1), in each case in which an answer is filed, a judge shall conduct at least one conference.  O. Reg. 383/11, s. 4 (1).

EXCEPTION, CASE CONFERENCE OPTIONAL IN CHILD PROTECTION CASE

(1.1) In a child protection case, a case conference may be conducted if,

(a) a party requests it; or

(b) the court considers it appropriate.  O. Reg. 91/03, s. 6 (1).

UNDEFENDED CASES

(2) If no answer is filed,

(a) the clerk shall, on request, schedule a case conference or set a date for an uncontested trial or, in an uncontested divorce case, prepare the documents for a judge; and

(b) a settlement conference or trial management conference shall be conducted only if the court orders it.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (2); O. Reg. 544/99, s. 8 (1); O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (1).

MOTIONS TO CHANGE FINAL ORDER OR AGREEMENT

(3) Subrule (1) applies, with necessary changes, to a motion to change a final order or agreement under rule 15, unless the motion is proceeding on the consent of the parties and any assignee or is unopposed.  O. Reg. 151/08, s. 5 (1).

PURPOSES OF CASE CONFERENCE

(4) The purposes of a case conference include,

(a) exploring the chances of settling the case;

(b) identifying the issues that are in dispute and those that are not in dispute;

(c) exploring ways to resolve the issues that are in dispute;

(d) ensuring disclosure of the relevant evidence;

(d.1) identifying any issues relating to any expert evidence or reports on which the parties intend to rely at trial;

(e) noting admissions that may simplify the case;

(f) setting the date for the next step in the case;

(g) setting a specific timetable for the steps to be taken in the case before it comes to trial;

(h) organizing a settlement conference, or holding one if appropriate; and

(i) giving directions with respect to any intended motion, including the preparation of a specific timetable for the exchange of material for the motion and ordering the filing of summaries of argument, if appropriate.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (4); O. Reg. 89/04, s. 8 (1); O. Reg. 6/10, s. 7 (1, 2).

CASE CONFERENCE NOTICE

(4.1) A party who asks for a case conference shall serve and file a case conference notice (Form 17).  O. Reg. 544/99, s. 8 (2); O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (2).

PURPOSES OF SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE

(5) The purposes of a settlement conference include,

(a) exploring the chances of settling the case;

(b) settling or narrowing the issues in dispute;

(c) ensuring disclosure of the relevant evidence;

(c.1) settling or narrowing any issues relating to any expert evidence or reports on which the parties intend to rely at trial;

(d) noting admissions that may simplify the case;

(e) if possible, obtaining a view of how the court might decide the case;

(f) considering any other matter that may help in a quick and just conclusion of the case;

(g) if the case is not settled, identifying the witnesses and other evidence to be presented at trial, estimating the time needed for trial and scheduling the case for trial; and

(h) organizing a trial management conference, or holding one if appropriate.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (5); O. Reg. 6/10, s. 7 (3).

PURPOSES OF TRIAL MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

(6) The purposes of a trial management conference include,

(a) exploring the chances of settling the case;

(b) arranging to receive evidence by a written report, an agreed statement of facts, an affidavit or another method, if appropriate;

(c) deciding how the trial will proceed;

(c.1) exploring the use of expert evidence or reports at trial, including the timing requirements for service and filing of experts’ reports;

(d) ensuring that the parties know what witnesses will testify and what other evidence will be presented at trial;

(e) estimating the time needed for trial; and

(f) setting the trial date, if this has not already been done.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (6); O. Reg. 6/10, s. 7 (4).

COMBINED CONFERENCE

(7) At any time on the direction of a judge, part or all of a case conference, settlement conference and trial management conference may be combined.  O. Reg. 383/11, s. 4 (2).

ORDERS AT CONFERENCE

(8) At a case conference, settlement conference or trial management conference the judge may, if it is appropriate to do so,

(a) make an order for document disclosure (rule 19), questioning (rule 20) or filing of summaries of argument on a motion, set the times for events in the case or give directions for the next step or steps in the case;

(a.0.1) make an order respecting the use of expert witness evidence at trial or the service and filing of experts’ reports;

(a.1) make an order requiring the parties to file a trial management endorsement or trial scheduling endorsement in a form determined by the court;

(b) make an order requiring one or more parties to attend,

(i) a mandatory information program,

(ii) a case conference or settlement conference conducted by a person named under subrule (9),

(iii) an intake meeting with a court-affiliated mediation service, or

(iv) a program offered through any other available community service or resource;

(b.1) if notice has been served, make a final order or any temporary order, including any of the following temporary orders to facilitate the preservation of the rights of the parties until a further agreement or order is made:

(i) an order relating to the designation of beneficiaries under a policy of life insurance, registered retirement savings plan, trust, pension, annuity or a similar financial instrument,

(ii) an order preserving assets generally or particularly,

(iii) an order prohibiting the concealment or destruction of documents or property,

(iv) an order requiring an accounting of funds under the control of one of the parties,

(v) an order preserving the health and medical insurance coverage for one of the parties and the children of the relationship, and

(vi) an order continuing the payment of periodic amounts required to preserve an asset or a benefit to one of the parties and the children;

(c) make an unopposed order or an order on consent; and

(d) on consent, refer any issue for alternative dispute resolution.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (8); O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (3, 4); O. Reg. 89/04, s. 8 (3); O. Reg. 6/10, s. 7 (5); O. Reg. 383/11, s. 4 (3); O. Reg. 322/13, s. 10; O. Reg. 69/15, s. 6 (1).

CONFERENCES WITH A NON-JUDGE

(9) A case conference or settlement conference may be conducted by a person referred to in subrule (9.1) who has been named for the purpose by the appropriate regional senior judge, unless a party requests a conference with a judge. O. Reg. 142/14, s. 9.

SAME

(9.1) For the purposes of subrule (9), the following persons may conduct a conference:

1. A person who is licensed under the Law Society Act to practice law in Ontario as a barrister and solicitor and whose licence is not suspended, if he or she has at least 10 years experience in the practice of family law.

2. A person who was licensed under the Law Society Act to practice law in Ontario as a barrister and solicitor but who has since retired, if, at the time of retirement,

i. his or her license was not suspended, and

ii. he or she had at least 10 years experience in the practice of family law.

3. A master or retired master of the Superior Court of Justice.

4. A retired judge of the Superior Court of Justice. O. Reg. 142/14, s. 9.

SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE WITH JUDGE BEFORE CASE SET FOR TRIAL

(10) A case shall not be scheduled for trial unless,

(a) a judge has conducted a settlement conference; or

(b) a judge has ordered that the case be scheduled for trial.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (10).

(11) Revoked:  O. Reg. 151/08, s. 5 (2).

WHEN CONFERENCES OPTIONAL

(12) A case conference, settlement conference or trial management conference is not required, but may be held at a party’s request or on a judge’s direction in the following circumstances:

1. In an enforcement.

2. In a request to enforce a family arbitration award under rule 32.1. O. Reg. 388/12, s. 7.

PARTIES TO SERVE BRIEFS

(13) For each conference, each party shall serve and file a case conference brief (Form 17A or Form 17B), settlement conference brief (Form 17C or Form 17D) or trial management conference brief (Form 17E), as appropriate.  O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (5).

CASE CONFERENCE BRIEF IN CHILD PROTECTION CASE

(13.0.1) In a child protection case, a case conference brief shall be served and filed only if a case conference is being held under subrule (1.1).  O. Reg. 91/03, s. 6 (3).

TIME FOR SERVICE OF BRIEFS

(13.1) The party requesting the conference (or, if the conference is not requested by a party, the applicant or party making the motion) shall serve and file a brief not later than seven days before the date scheduled for the conference and the other party shall do so not later than four days before that date.  O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (5); O. Reg. 69/15, s. 6 (2).

PARTIES TO CONFIRM ATTENDANCE

(14) Not later than 2 p.m. two days before the date scheduled for the conference, each party shall file a confirmation (Form 14C).  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (14); O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (6).

NO LATE BRIEFS

(14.1) No brief or other document for use at the conference that is required to be served or filed may be served or filed after 2 p.m. two days before the date scheduled for the conference.  O. Reg. 202/01, s. 5 (7); O. Reg. 69/15, s. 6 (3).

REQUIREMENT TO BRING DOCUMENTS TO SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE

(14.2) The following documents shall be brought to a settlement conference:

1. Any document that supports a party’s position in respect of a dispute regarding the value of property or regarding the amount of a debt, in the case of a property claim under Part I of the Family Law Act.

2. Any document required to be served under rule 13 (financial disclosure), if there is a dispute as to whether it was served. O. Reg. 69/15, s. 6 (4).

PARTIES AND LAWYERS TO COME TO CONFERENCE

(15) The following shall come to each conference:

1. The parties, unless the court orders otherwise.

2. For each represented party, the lawyer with full knowledge of and authority in the case.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (15).

PARTICIPATION BY TELEPHONE OR VIDEO CONFERENCE

(16) With permission obtained in advance from the judge who is to conduct a conference, a party or lawyer may participate in the conference by telephone or video conference.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (16).

SETTING UP TELEPHONE OR VIDEO CONFERENCE

(17) A party or lawyer who has permission to participate by telephone or video conference shall,

(a) make the necessary arrangements;

(b) serve a notice of the arrangements on all other parties and file it; and

(c) participate in the conference as the notice specifies.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (17).

COSTS OF ADJOURNED CONFERENCE

(18) If a conference is adjourned because a party is not prepared, has not served the required brief, has not made the required disclosure or has otherwise not followed these rules, the judge shall,

(a) order the party to pay the costs of the conference immediately;

(b) decide the amount of the costs; and

(c) give any directions that are needed.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (18).

CONFERENCE AGREEMENT

(19) No agreement reached at a conference is effective until it is signed by the parties, witnessed and, in a case involving a special party, approved by the court.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (19).

AGREEMENT FILED IN CONTINUING RECORD

(20) The agreement shall be filed as part of the continuing record, unless the court orders otherwise. O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (20).

CONTINUING RECORD, TRIAL MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE BRIEFS

(21) Trial management conference briefs form part of the continuing record.  O. Reg. 89/04, s. 8 (5).

CONTINUING RECORD, CASE CONFERENCE BRIEFS

(22) Case conference briefs do not form part of the continuing record unless the court orders otherwise and shall be returned at the end of the conference to the parties who filed them or be destroyed by court staff immediately after the conference.  O. Reg. 89/04, s. 8 (5).

DELETIONS FROM CASE CONFERENCE BRIEF INCLUDED IN RECORD

(22.1) If the court orders that a case conference brief form part of the continuing record, that portion of the brief that deals with settlement of the case shall be deleted.  O. Reg. 89/04, s. 8 (5).

CONTINUING RECORD, SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE BRIEFS

(22.2) Settlement conference briefs do not form part of the continuing record and shall be returned at the end of the conference to the parties who filed them or be destroyed by the court staff immediately after the conference.  O. Reg. 89/04, s. 8 (5).

CONFIDENTIALITY OF SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE

(23) No brief or evidence prepared for a settlement conference and no statement made at a settlement conference shall be disclosed to any other judge, except in,

(a) an agreement reached at a settlement conference; or

(b) an order.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 17 (23).

SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE JUDGE CANNOT HEAR ISSUE

(24) A judge who conducts a settlement conference about an issue shall not hear the issue, except as subrule (25) provides.  O. Reg. 91/03, s. 6 (4).

EXCEPTION, CHILD PROTECTION CASE

(25) In a child protection case, if a finding that the child is in need of protection is made without a trial and a trial is needed to determine which order should be made under section 57 of the Child and Family Services Act, any judge who has not conducted a settlement conference on that issue may conduct the trial.  O. Reg. 91/03, s. 6 (4).

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