Hello, my name is Shilpa Mehta and I am a lawyer with the Feldstein Family Law Group.
In earlier videos, my colleagues and I took a closer examination of starting and responding to Court Applications, Case Conferences, and Motions. I encourage you to view those videos. Today, I would like to discuss Early Case Conferences (ECC).
As of July 2014, for all proceedings in the Superior Court of Justice in the Central West Region (that is, Brampton and Milton courts), the court is offering Early Case Conference dates to help advance settlement of issues before the court.
An ECC is a court appearance that can be scheduled by self-represented litigants as well as those represented by counsel. The early case conferences will be held on Mondays. They will be listed as “Early Case Conference” and are available only if a case conference has not already been held.
All ECCs are only 15 minutes for all submissions, discussion and endorsements and will be scheduled for 10 a.m. The parties are heard as per the court docket that day. Both parties must certify they have fully discussed the issues to be litigated with the other side before their attendance at court for the ECC, or have attended court not later than 9 a.m. on the scheduled date to fully discuss the issues. If the parties have not discussed the issues fully in advance of 10 a.m., the conference will be rescheduled.
The litigants must file updated financial statements. Case Conference Briefs must not exceed five double spaced pages setting out their positions and must not include lengthy schedules.
Although judges can only make procedural orders at an ECC (that is, orders for disclosure or set timelines for the case), generally, ECC dates are easier to attain and once an issue in the family law case has been conferenced, the parties may proceed with bringing motions on that matter. For more information on motions, please view our blog on this topic or visit our Firm’s website.
From my experience, the ECC is a fantastic tool to help resolve the most urgent issues such as support, interim custody or access and thereby allow parties to proceed with resolution of the balance of the issues with less difficulty. For instance, it is far easier for parents to have discussions about property settlement once they have an order or agreement in place with respect to the parenting schedule for the children.
Although the ECC helps move family law matters forward once a case is in court, I must remind all of our viewers that wherever possible, parties should make a genuine effort to take part in meaningful settlement discussions and resolve their matter on their own accord.