Law Times

May 29, 2017

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Law Times • may 29, 2017 Page 3 Goal to alleviate delays Project aims to improve personal injury trial scheduling BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times L awyers say a new pilot project at Toronto Region courts that will schedule personal injury jury cases for month-long sittings could have ripple effects that would disrupt other regions. The Toronto Region recently announced its project that will change the scheduling system from fixed court dates for two- to three-week personal injury trials to four-week sittings. This will see trials that are currently scheduled from Sep- tember to December of this year moved to a time in the four weeks after Nov. 27. Those scheduled from Janu- ary to June 2018 will be moved to the four-week period after June 4, 2018. With this approach, person- al injury lawyers will not have fixed dates for trials and could be called at any point within these four-week periods, which they worry will likely lead to double bookings. In addition to having trials in the sittings periods in Toronto that could conf lict with trials scheduled in other regions, law- yers could even have multiple trials now in the same sitting period in Toronto that could overlap. "I think more lawyers are going to be double, triple and quadruple booking themselves, which is going to potentially cause delays across the prov- ince," says Sivan Tumarkin, a partner with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. Tumarkin says the project could possibly disrupt other regions where Toronto lawyers have trials booked that don't have a sittings system in place, although the periods in Toron- to have been set so that they do not conf lict with the sittings in Central East and Central West regions. "They are trying their best to alleviate a chronic problem of getting to trial and I think it's yet to be seen if this project will actually alleviate that issue," Tu- markin says. Personal injury trials make up 60 per cent of trials in On- tario. Sharma Mohan, senior coun- sel for the Office of the Chief Justice of the Superior Court, says the primary purpose of the sitting in Toronto is to actually minimize conf licts that lawyers have had with trial sittings in Central West and Central East regions. "There are expected to be fewer conf licts and, therefore, there are not expected to be dis- ruptions in other regions," she says. Mick Hassell, of Hassell Trial Counsel, says such a sittings ap- proach makes sense for personal injury, as it is the area with mat- ters that are most likely to settle before trial. Medical malpractice trials will be exempt from the pro- ject as they have a much higher probability of going to trial than other personal injury cases. Lawyers say the goal of the new approach is to cut down on delays and inefficiencies that come from the current trial scheduling system. Adam Wagman, a past presi- dent of the Ontario Trial Law- yers Association and a member of the Toronto Civil Bench and Bar Committee, says courts have not been able to overbook when scheduling on a week-by- week basis, as they need to be able to ensure that parties are going to be able to start their case that week. But with the sittings ap- proach, courts will be able to book more cases in a four-week sitting than multiple months worth of fixed-trial dates, re- ducing the time out to trial, he says. "The law of averages tells you that as long as you've set aside enough judges for that period of time, you'll be able to get through all of those trials," he says. "And so really the point of this is to eventually provide ear- lier trial dates in that category of trials." Lawyers have also expressed concerns that the sittings ap- proach could face practical problems for lawyers and their expert witnesses, who will be told they could be called at any time in a four-week period. Mohan, however, says coun- sel will know well in advance the date of the trial sitting and that there have been few diffi- culties with expert witnesses in other regions that already have specific trial sitting weeks. "Every effort will be made by the trial co-ordinator to provide as much advance notice as pos- sible to the parties of the exact commencement date," she says. Mohan says the success of the Toronto project will be assessed after the two sittings and modi- fications may be made based on that assessment. LT NEWS Sivan Tumarkin says a new pilot project introduced to improve personal injury trial scheduling could disrupt other regions where Toronto lawyers have trials booked, where there aren't sittings systems in place. Every effort will be made by the trial co-ordinator to provide as much advance notice as possible to the parties of the exact commencement date. Sharma Mohan MATTER CREDENTIALS TORONTO I BARRIE I HAMILTON I KITCHENER 1-866-685-3311 I A Noticeable Difference ™ Choosing a personal injury lawyer is one of the most important decisions an injured person will make. Help your client ask the right questions: Is the lawyer? Untitled-4 1 2015-02-17 10:59 AM

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