Osborne Report on Civil Justice Reform Released

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.
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