Saskatchewan Introduces Binding Pre-Trial Conferences

The Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench has amended its Rules of Court to provide for Binding Pre-Trial conferences. Typically, pre-trial conferences provide an informal setting for all parties to a civil or family law matter and a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench to:

  • identify the facts that are agreed upon or are in dispute;
  • clarify the issues between the parties; and
  • attempt to reach a resolution by way of a voluntary agreement.

With the recent amendment to Saskatchewan’s Rules of Court, parties can now request a binding pre-trial conference at the close of pleadings and when all parties consent.

According to Rule 4-21.2 (2) binding pre-trial conferences are not intended to replace normal negotiations between the parties. The goals of binding pre-trial conferences are to allow the parties to participate in the problem-solving process; to allow settlement options to be presented; and if settlement fails to obtain a biding decision on one or more of the claims or issues in the dispute so as to improve the efficiency of the court system and to save time and costs for all parties.

Following a binding pre-trial conference, the Justice will render a final and binding decision after hearing from both sides if the parties cannot reach their own agreement. The decision cannot be appealed.

The written agreement to participate in a binding pre-trial conference requires the parties to acknowledge and confirm that they have entered into the agreement voluntarily, that they understand the nature and affect of the agreement, that they understand and consent to participating in the binding pre-trial conference process including that, if the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the presiding judge may make a binding decision that may include costs. The agreement will further specify that the parties understand and agree that a binding decision will be deemed a consent order or judgment of the court and cannot be appealed without leave of the presiding judge pursuant to section 38 of the Queen’s Bench Act.

Another difference between binding pre-trial conferences and regular procedure relates to timing of material filing. Binding pre-trial conferences require each party to file pre-trial briefs and expert reports not later than 15 days before the date scheduled for the binding pre-trial conference.

A party may withdraw consent from participating in a binding pre-trial conference up to 10 days before the scheduled meeting.

The introduction of binding pre-trial conferences in Saskatchewan offers litigants an additional tool to resolve disputes without the necessity of trial. Although Saskatchewan is not the first jurisdiction in Canada to offer binding pre-trial conferences, it is certainly at the forefront of this alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

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Lawyers Jennifer D Pereira Saskatchewan Introduces Binding Pre-Trial Conferences