Settlement Conference in Civil Cases

Operating Rules

The Civil Division of the Court of Québec offers people and enterprises involved in a civil case the possibility to taking part in an amicable dispute resolution conference. The service is provided in all judicial districts by judges who have received the relevant training.

1. LEGAL FOUNDATION


Article 4.3 of the Code of Civil Procedure stipulates that it is the judge's duty to attempt to reconcile the parties.


The legislator incorporated into articles 151.14 to 151.23 of the Code of Civil Procedure the main elements of an amicable dispute resolution conference.


2. DEFINITION

An amicable dispute resolution conference is an alternative dispute resolution method that enables people and enterprises involved in a civil case to resolve their dispute harmoniously without a trial, which saves time and money.


3. INTRODUCTION

It is possible to request an amicable dispute resolution conference at any stage in the judicial process, but preferable to do so before the case is heard.


4. TERMS OF ACCESS

a) Parties that agree to an dispute resolution conference submit a joint request to the court office of the civil division of the district with jurisdiction, by filling out and signing the form entitled Joint Request for an Settlement Conference in a Civil Case, so that the conference can be set up.

Joint Request for a Settlement Conference in a Civil Case pdf version (Except for the District of Montréal)
Joint Request for a Settlement Conference in a Civil Case for the District of Montréal
pdf version

b) If one party, on its own initiative, wants to propose an amicable dispute resolution conference without consulting the other parties, it can do so by writing to the court office of the civil division of the courthouse concerned.

c) The court office notifies the coordinating judge, who evaluates the request. If the coordinating judge considers such a conference appropriate, he or she sets the date for the conference before the conciliating judge and takes the necessary steps to ensure that the parties are notified.

d) An amicable dispute resolution conference must never delay the judicial process by extending the time periods provided for by law.

e) An amicable dispute resolution conference is free of charge for all the parties. However, parties that are not eligible for legal aid and their attorneys must agree on the attorneys' fees.


CONFIDENTIALITY

a)
An amicable dispute resolution conference is held behin closed doors and the discussions are not recorded.

b) An amicable dispute resolution conference is confidential and the judge's notes are all destroyed when it is over, preferably in the parties'presence.

c)
If the parties must go to trial, the conciliating judge may never discuss the case with the adjudicating judge.

d) Since the parties' undertook in their joint request to respect the confidentiality of all the discussions during the conference, third parties participating in the conference must sign a similar agreement when the conference begins.


OTHER CHARACTERISTICS

a) A judge who presides over an amicable dispute resolution conference does not wear a robe.

b) The judge ensures that the conference takes place in a friendly atmosphere conductive to discussions and according to flexible rules so as to promote resolution of the dispute.


c) The judge assigned to an amicable dispute resolution conference is asked to summon the attorneys and the non-represented parties to a preparatory telephone conference prior the amicable dispute resolution conference.

d) The telephone conference makes it possible to ensure that everyone involved will be present at the amicable dispute resolution conference, including any experts, and that everyone is aware of the process and agrees to take part in it. In addition, the role of each party and the required preparation are explained
.

e) At the start of the meeting, the judge holding the conference explains to the parties the process and the established rules, including those they determine together.

f) The judge presiding over the session can meet with the parties separately if they agree to that.

g) The parties and their attorneys are responsible for writing the draft agreement. However, the conciliating judge is asked to read the draft agreement proposed to the parties in order to ensure that they consent to it. If the agreement is in accordance with the principles established by law, it can be submitted to the court with jurisdiction, where a judge can confirm it in order to make it enforceable.

h) The judge presiding over the session can meet with the parties separately if they agree to that.


i) However, with the parties'consent, the judge can convert an amicable dispute resolution conference into a preparatory conference. The admissions and identification of the issues in dispute are then recorded in minutes signed by the parties and their attorneys.



Read more about settlement conference in civil cases.

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