ADR takes centre stage in British Columbia
From Community Courts to mediated disputes and international treaties, our justice system, the foundation upon which our democracy is built, is adapting to meet the needs of a society undergoing significant cultural and technological change. The courts must adapt if they are to “meet the needs of the community more effectively,” was the strong assertion of Chief Judge Hugh C. Stansfield in the pages of BarTalk’s April 2008 edition. In the courts and beyond, CBABC members are working as judges, lawyers, mediators, judicial justices of the peace, and in a myriad of other roles on the cusp of significant changes to our justice system.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the focus of this month’s publication, is a multi-faceted tool that can function alongside, whilst simultaneously being complimentary to, the court system. Lawyers practicing ADR, or in non-traditional roles, have the opportunity to operate outside of the courtroom setting while working toward the same goal of helping to resolving disputes, in all their manifestations, in a fair and efficient manner. In this edition we hear from a wide variety of legal practitioners examining ADR from both practice and legislative perspectives. Gordon Sloan, a lawyer and mediator, provides a glimpse into a day in his working life, touching on challenges and the rewards of his position from the early morning through to the end of the day. The Chair of the Justice Review Task Force, M. Jerry McHale, QC writes in his article, “Mediation in Civil and Family Cases in B.C.,” about both the character and history of mediation practice in B.C. especially as it pertains to family law. On the international front, we hear from Dierk Ullrich, a lawyer with Fasken Martineau and chair of the BarTalk editorial board, who recounts recent developments in legislation pertaining to the settlement of international disputes and the challenge of existing regulations being inconsistently applied across the provinces. From the domestic scene, Gregory S. Pun, Law Officer with the Court of Appeal examines the ongoing pre-hearing judicial settlement conference pilot project and how it has developed since its commencement in Autumn 2004. The preceding briefs are just a small selection of the articles that comprise this month’s BarTalk which also includes contributions from Jack Giles, QC, our regular columnists and many others.
While the totality of advancements in ADR and our justice system as a whole are simply too vast to be given their due in a single edition of our humble publication, we hope to have at least hinted at the scope of changes and their importance to lawyers across the province. CBABC members, in all of their roles, are at the forefront of our ever changing justice system. You can find more information on initiatives that the CBABC is participating in, such as the Justice Review Task Force, at our website www.cba.org/bc.
This article was published in the June 2008 issue of BarTalk. © 2008 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.