The Ontario Small Claims Court is finally allowing Settlement Conferences to proceed on all matters where a Defence has been filed, regardless of the filing date.
Up until March 16, 2021, the Small Claims Court was only accepting requests for Settlement Conferences on matters where a Defence was filed on or before August 31, 2021 only.
Now that there are no restrictions on requesting a Settlement Conference, this is where the civility is lacking.
We do not need to obtain the consent or unavailable dates from opposing representatives. We do it to reduce conflicts and to be courteous to other legal representatives.
We write to opposing, advising that we are going to request the Settlement Conference, and ask that they provide their unavailable dates for the next three months to assist the Court in scheduling. Sounds reasonable, right?
Well apparently, not for some lawyers. It appears that they have forgotten how to be civil with other legal professionals, and for some reason they have decided to act out in defiance of us wanting to move the matter forward – the horror!
One representative in particular has gone out of their way to demand that we get dates for a specific month from the Court and canvas those dates with their office, because my request for their unavailable dates for three months was unreasonable.
They were given a deadline to provide their unavailable dates to us, and if they didn’t, we advised that we send the request without their dates, and if they had a conflict, they can deal with that on their own.
Well, they provided their unavailable dates for the next three months and they are only available for two weeks in May and conveniently not available for the three months as requested. But my request was unreasonable, right?
Lawyers are bound to the Law Society’s Professional Rules of Conduct and Paralegals are bound to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and both deal with civility when dealing with other legal professionals. Perhaps a CPD on civility is needed for some representatives to remind themselves how to communicate with opposing parties.
We need civility between legal representatives now more than ever considering the current state of the Court and outbursts by some legal representatives really hinder the litigation process.
Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal