Well that was inefficient

A “hot topic” of conversation in the GTA Litigation community is the delay in the Toronto Court System. That delay means over 7 months to book a procedural motion before a Master and that of course can lead to delays in law suits for years.

Yesterday I was in Motions Scheduling Court in Toronto as I have been a fair bit of late, responding to matters brought by lawyers who feel it is best for their clients to dive into the delay pit of the Toronto Courts.

The entire purpose of this Court is to set dates to argue motions before a Judge. Only gowned lawyers and self represented litigants are allowed to attend this Court.

The Notice sent out by the Court says that it starts at 9:00 a.m. That is a lie. The doors to the Court Room open at 9:00 a.m., the Judge is expected to enter at 9:30 a.m. (ours entered at 10:10 a.m. yesterday, but that is not the norm). I understand the reason for the notice including a 1/2 hour “lead time” is because lawyers were showing up late for the 9:30 a.m. start.

Well, guess what? They still are because, “shockingly”, after a lawyer sits in Court for 1/2 an hour waiting for Court to start (which incurs more legal fees for the client) they learn they don’t have to be there at 9:00 a.m..

As I sat in Court at 9:30 a.m. waiting for the Judge to arrive, I did a rough calculation of the collective hourly rate sitting in the Court Room – it was around $ 10 000.00, give or take.

When the Judge arrived there was no clear reason for the Order matters were taken. A contentious schedule was argued early on, while one lawyer had to wait four hours to tell the Judge the matter settled the day before – wow, that was a fantastic use of resources.

I had to sit in Court five hours to argue against the adjournment the opposing lawyer was seeking. During that time, many matters that counsel had agreed to dates on were spoken to, but the Judge had to hand write an endorsement for each one – that takes time.

That was an incredibly inefficient day.

If I ran the Toronto System, here is how I would fix the Judges Motion Scheduling system:

1. provide a form for counsel to fax in a consent date and timetable;
2. provide a form for counsel to fax in and advise the Court a matter is settled;
3. have counsel schedule contested motion in telephone conference calls with a Judge – these can be scheduled for 20 minute time slots, thus avoiding the wasting of waiting time.
4. Alternatively, limit the number of contested matters argued before a Judge to 5 on a given day – this will limit the time in Court to schedule a matter to 3 hours at most.

Of course, I don’t run the system and I don’t expect anyone to act on my suggestions: there is simply no interest in fixing the problem that is Toronto.

Inga B. Andriessen JD