In an effort to speed up Ontario’s civil justice system, on Feb. 1, the province's Superior Court will begin a case management pilot called the One Judge Model.
The pilot grew out of a report from the Judiciary Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers called "Working Smarter But Not Harder in Canada: the Development of a Unified Approach to Case Management in Civil Litigation." For those approved, one case management judge will sit at all pretrial hearings through to the end of the trial — other than case conferences for settlement discussions, in which having a different judge is more conducive to free discussion of the comparative strengths of each case and the compromise discussed between the parties. Interlocutory motions will be avoided when possible and replaced by informal procedures, such as meetings with the judge.
Early in the proceedings, the case management judge will set the trial date, only to be adjourned in exceptional circumstances approved by the judge, who will make pretrial orders on evidence admissibility for efficiency's sake. The Superior Court hopes one-judge case management will be faster and less expensive than the status quo and will evaluate the program after two years.