In the recent case of Ni v. Yan, 2020 CarswellOnt 14206, Justice Jarvis experienced déjà vu when he was faced once again with another set of litigants who blatantly disregarded the Family Law Rules and practice directions regarding Settlement Conferences. Justice Jarvis, similar to his decision Natale v. Crupi, 2020 CarswellOnt 8063 (S.C.J.), took the opportunity to send a message to all Ontarians; the Courts time must be respected. There are rules and practices in place for a reason and they are not be disregarded for ones own convenience. If you choose to disregard the Rules, your matter will not be heard.
In this case, in preparation for their Settlement Conference, both parties filed lengthy Settlement Conference Briefs with many attachments. They each made additional allegations that the other had not provided financial disclosure with over 35 outstanding disclosure requests existing. On top of that, neither party had attempted to bring a Motion for the disclosure issues. This means that neither had attempted to deal with the outstanding disclosure prior to the Settlement Conference.
The lack of attempt to rectify the disclosure issues before the Settlement Conference signaled to Justice Jarvis that neither party was taking the Conference seriously. Without proper financial disclosure, it would be negligent to have any comprehensive settlement discussions. Both lawyers in this case are at fault for allowing their clients to proceed with the Settlement Conference with such sizeable disclosure issues existing.
Justice Jarvis was clear that this Settlement Conference would not be proceeding because neither party was prepared or at the stage of the matter to have any substantial discussion to the point where it would not be a complete waste of the court's time. The day before the Conference, Justice Jarvis cancelled the Conference and advised the parties of his decision.
When using the court system, individuals, especially those represented by counsel, are expected to abide by the Rules and be prepared. The parties in this case were neither and thus lost their opportunity to have their Settlement Conference.
Justice Jarvis referred to a quote from his fellow Justice, Justice Kiteley from the case Greco-Wang v. Wang, 2014 ONSC 5366 where it was stated that "members of the public who are users of civil courts are not entitled to unlimited access to trial judges".
Not only did Justice Jarvis cancel their Settlement Conference, in order to ensure they would not attempt to proceed with another before they were prepared, he made an Order prohibiting them from booking a further conference without his permission. Additionally, they would need to show by way of Affidavit material that they were prepared to proceed, and no outstanding discourse exists.
Let this be a lesson to all that the practice directions and Family Law Rules are expected to be followed and leniency will not be granted to those who choose to ignore them whether willfully or unintentionally.
For more information, please call us at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. or contact our firm online.