Former Associate Chief Justice Coulter Osborne has released his Civil Justice Reform Project. He is scheduled to address the Montebello Civil Litigation Conference tomorrow and the Attorney-General is to speak at the conference today.
The report can be viewed here.
Some of the key proposals:
- increasing Small Claims Court jurisdiction from $10,000 to $25,000;
- increasing Simplified Rules jurisdiction from $50,000 to $100,000;
- a right to have up to two hours of discovery in simplified rules cases;
- a call for the appointment of more Superior Court judges, particularly in certain regions of the province;
- amend rule 20 to permit judges hearing summary judgment motions to weigh evidence and evaluate credibility;
- amend rule 20 to permit judges to order “mini-trials”;
- study needs generated by self-represented litigants;
- no juries in Simplified Rules cases without a court order;
- replace the “semblance of relevance” test for discovery with one of simple relevance;
- limit discovery of an adverse party to seven hours. More time could be obtained on consent or by court order;
- encourage parties to meet to agree on various discovery issues;
- measures to encourage objectivity on the part of expert witnesses and agreement, where possible, among experts;
- take steps to ensure an adequate complement of case management masters in Ottawa;
- allow pre-trial judges to preside at trial, where the parties consent;
- only orders finally disposing of an action would be appealable to the Court of Appeal, with all other orders being appealed to the Divisional Court;
- enforce time limits at trials more strictly;
- zero tolerance of incivility;
- introduction of “proportionality” as an overarching principle governing costs;
- a requirement that counsel prepare a litigation budget and review it with the client prior to commencing or defending a proceeding.