Judicial Case Conference in BC – Procedure made simple
What is a Judicial Case Conference?
A Judicial Case Conference in BC (JCC) is required in all family law proceedings. It is a private and informal hour-long meeting with a Supreme Court Judge or Master, the parties, and their lawyers. Hiring a lawyer is not a requirement, but legal advice is very helpful.
A JCC is an opportunity to settle your case before moving into the adversarial system. The Judge or Master will work with you to reach a compromise. If an agreement is reached, then the Judge or Master can make a consent order.
The Judge or Master acts like a mediator and is impartial. In most cases, some or all of the issues are settled in this process. It is a very effective way of resolving disputes.
Is a Judicial Case Conference required?
In BC Judicial Case Conferences are required before any other applications can be made to the court. However, a party can apply for an exemption in special or emergency circumstances. The most common reasons are that there is a physical risk of harm, or that property may be lost. These are generally called Protection Orders and Preservation orders.
How do I prepare for a Judicial Case Conference?
In preparing for a family Judicial Case Conference in BC it is crucial for each party to prepare the correct documents. At least seven days before the JCC, both parties must file and exchange Financial Statements. In most cases, where lawyers are involved, the parties also file a JCC brief, which outlines the history of the relationship, the issues before the court, and the respective parties’ proposals.
It is important to understand the grounds for divorce in BC. While you can still claim adultry, these cases are very rare. See Grounds for Divorce.
What happens during the Judicial Case Conference?
A Judicial Case Conference in BC allows for a confidential hour in which both parties (and their lawyers) are able to discuss their issues before a Judge or Master. It is crucial, in preparing for a JCC, for the parties to identify the issues they wish to resolve and describe how they wish them to be resolved. For example, if time with the children is an issue, you should be ready to propose your parenting plan and be able to explain why you believe it is best for the child.
What if my case is not settled at the Judicial Case Conference?
In the unfortunate event that the parties cannot resolve their conflicting issues during their JCC, the Judge or Master will refer the matter to trial. This may include setting trial dates, making orders to assist in the preparation for a trial, or referring the matter to mediation.
Possible risks for self-represented parties
More and more people are attending Judicial Case Conferences in BC without lawyers. While this is allowed, it is important to ensure that you are properly prepared. The Judges’ role is to be impartial and you should not rely on them to protect your interests. It is worth consulting with a lawyer and ensuring that you know what is expected of you even if you do not wish to have one attend court with you. If you fail to comply with all of the procedural requirements, like filing and serving a Financial Statement etc., you can be ordered to pay the costs of the other parties lawyer.
If you are self-represented consider having a lawyer help you prepare the documents.
For more information on Judicial Case Conferences in BC click here
Collaborative Lawyers, Mediators & Arbitrators
November 15, 2013
Revised June 2015