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Saskatchewan court to offer binding civil, family pretrials

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 @ 3:15 PM | By Terry Davidson

In a bid to save litigants time and money, Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench will be offering binding pretrial conferences for civil and family law cases for those unable to reach an agreement.

According to a Sept. 30 news release, this is a voluntary “supplement” to the existing pretrial conference and involves a judge making a final decision in cases where feuding parties are at an impasse.

A judge’s final decision at this stage will spare litigants from enduring a time-consuming and expensive trial.

“The settlement pretrial conference that our Court pioneered almost 40 years ago remains a popular and effective process for resolving disputes short of trial,” states Chief Justice Martel Popescul, noting that the binding pretrial option is not intended to replace “what is working well.”

“The binding pretrial conference process may not be suitable for all cases, but where it is, it offers another arrow in one’s quiver, so to speak,” he goes on to state.

It works like this:
  • Both parties sign a joint request for this option, as well as a written agreement to go through with it. A judge is assigned to the case and a court registrar will advise the parties of that assignment at least 30 days prior to the start of the proceeding.
  • Any party can choose to opt out of it up to 10 days before the conference is scheduled to start. A litigant may seek leave of the court to withdraw within the 10-day period, but it is up to the judge whether to grant this.
  • If there is any opting out, a standard settlement pretrial conference will proceed.  

The amendment allowing binding pretrials comes into force Oct. 1

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