- What is the Court Mediation Program?
- How do cases go to mediation in this program?
- What happens at the mediation?
- How do I prepare for mediation?
- What if I am suing the defendant for a personal injury?
- What happens if we reach an agreement?
- What if mediation does not solve the problem?
- Can mediation take place after a settlement conference?
- Who do you talk to if you have questions about mediation?
What is the Court Mediation Program for claims up to $10,000?
Mediation is alternative to court, where a third party assists the parties to settle their dispute. In Surrey, North Vancouver, Nanaimo and Victoria, the Court Mediation Program (Rule 7.2) is a court process where a mediator is supplied and paid for by the court.
How do cases go to mediation in this program?
Only some cases less than $10,000 go to the Court Mediation Program. Small Claims cases go to mediation in two ways:
- Many cases are automatically referred to the Court Mediation Program. For example, in some participating courts a specific volume of construction cases are sent to mediation. In addition, a certain number of non-construction cases are automatically selected for the Court Mediation Program.
If your case is selected automatically, you will receive a Notice of Mediation Session (Form 27) indicating when and where the mediation will take place. There is a list of exempt cases in Schedule E of the Small Claims Rules. If your case is NOT selected automatically, there is another way the case may go to mediation:
One of the parties can choose to mediate by filing a form called a Notice to Mediate for Claims up to $10,000 (Form 21) with the court registry. The Court Mediation Program will schedule a mediation date and the other party must attend.
If you are a defendant you must still complete the reply form that came with the Notice of Claim and follow the instructions for filing it. If you do not complete this form, judgment may be made against you. MediateBC.com has more information about the Court Information Program (Rule 7.2)
What type of cases are excluded from this mediation program?
- Claims over $10,000 which Rule 8(13) does not apply
Claims that involve:
- All cases in which a party is a person under disability
- All cases where the parties and cause of action is the same as a proceeding brought in the Supreme Court of British Columbia
- All cases where one of the parties has obtained against the other party a restraining order under the Family Relations Act or a s. 810 Peace Bond under the Criminal Code
What if I don’t want to attend the mediation?
You may make an application to a judge to have the case exempt from mediation.
Who attends the mediation?
All the parties involved in the dispute attend the mediation, including the claimant, the defendant, any third party, and their lawyers (if any). Generally, witnesses do not attend.
What happens at the mediation and how long does it take?
At the mediation, the mediator and the parties sit around a table in a mediation room. During the meeting, which usually takes about two hours, the mediator will review the agreement to mediate and answer any questions about the process. Together you will decide on the issues to be resolved and the parties will present their stories and what is most important to them. Often, the mediator will meet separately with the parties to discuss possible solutions.
If you do not understand what is being said during the mediation, you may ask questions at any time. The mediator helps to guide the discussion so everyone has a chance to speak. If the mediation does not work, the next step will be to go to a settlement conference.
How should I prepare for mediation?
You should think about what you want, what is important to you and what you may be willing to compromise about. You will want to think about the best and most realistic outcome that could result from the mediation for both you and the other party.
Use the Mediation Worksheet to help you prepare for your mediation session. You should also bring your original documents, invoices, witness statements, and/or photographs to the mediation as well as copies for the mediator and other party. In addition, review the Guide to Mediation in BC, provided by the Ministry of Attorney General.
What if I am suing the defendant for a personal injury?
There are special rules are personal injury cases found at Rule 7(9-11). You are required to file a Certificate of Readiness (Form 7) no later than 6 months after you have filed a notice of claim. A mediation under Rule 7.2 will not be scheduled until you file the Form 7 Certificate, which must include a medical report evaluating your injury and records of expenses or losses incurred or expected. You can make an application to a registrar extending the time to file the Form 7 Certificate another 6 months. This application may be made either before or after the initial deadline has expired.
If you are the claimant, be aware that the respondent can apply to a judge and ask that you attend a medical doctor for an examination at your expense.
What happens if the parties reach an agreement through mediation?
You are not required to reach a final agreement at mediation. But if you and the other party resolve your dispute, the mediator will help you put the agreement in writing. The agreement will also describe what happens if one party does not abide by the agreement terms. The agreement is filed with and enforced by the court.
What if mediation does not solve the problem?
If the mediation does not result in an agreement, the next step in the Small Claims Court process is a settlement conference. Sometimes, some if the issues in a dispute are resolved at mediation, but not all issues. When this happens, the issues that have been decided are put into an agreement and the rest of the case proceeds to the settlement conference.
Does unsuccessful mediation just add more time to my court case?
Even if mediation does not fully resolve your case, it is unlikely that it will be a wasted effort. Preparing for mediation will also help you prepare for the settlement conference. And, if your case does go to trial, it may be shorter and easier than if you had not participated in mediation first.
Will the settlement conference judge be told what happened at the mediation?
The settlement conference judge is told only what issues remain to be resolved - not what happened or what was said at the mediation.
Can mediation take place after a settlement conference?
If your dispute was not mediated before the conference, you may ask the judge at the settlement conference to refer your case to mediation with the consent of all the parties.
What happens if one of the parties does not attend the mediation?
If the claimant does not attend the mediation, the case may be dismissed. If the defendant does not attend the mediation, the claimant may ask for an immediate judgment against the defendant.
What happens if you need to change the date of the mediation?
If you cannot make the date set for the mediation, you can request a date change. The first step is to ask the other party to agree to the change. If he or she agrees, then you can file a consent order, with his or her written consent, at the registry.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other party, you may file an Application to the Registrar (Form 16) to adjourn the mediation at least seven days before the date set for mediation. The application must explain the reason you want to change the date and that you asked the other party to consent. You will need to explain why the mediation date is unreasonably inconvenient. Unreasonably inconvenient is defined in Rule 7.2(12.1), as including a family emergency, a pre-arranged out of town trip that can’t be changed, a requirement to attend court on the same day as the mediation, or any other reason that satisfies the registrar as unreasonably inconvenient. If the application is granted by the registrar, a new date will be set for your mediation.
You may also apply to the registrar within seven days before the mediation hearing to adjourn the mediation. In addition to proving why the mediation date is unreasonably inconvenient, you will also need to satisfy the registrar why it was not reasonably practicable to make the application at least 7 days before the scheduled mediation.
If can’t physically attend the mediation, you can apply to the registrar at least 7 days before the mediation using Form 16 and request that you attend the mediation by telephone, if you don’t live near the courthouse or there are exceptional circumstances. You can also make an application within 7 days of the mediation to attend by telephone if exceptional circumstances exist.
Who do you talk to if you have questions about mediation?
The Court Mediation Program staff can answer specific questions. Contact:
Court Mediation Program
Telephone: 604-684-1300 or Fax: 604-684-1306
For more information, visit MediateBC.com to learn more about the Court Mediation Program for Claims up to $10,000 Guide, or contact your local court:
Telephone: 604-572-2200 Fax: 604-572-2280
North Vancouver Court Services
Telephone: 604-981-0200 Fax: 604-981-0234
Telephone: 250-716-5902 Fax: 250-741-3809
Victoria Court Services
Telephone: 250-356-1478 Fax: 250-387-3061