Avoiding Litigation:  The Judicial Case Conference

Take a look at the video below. We explain and describe the Judicial Case Conference.

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Avoiding Litigation:
6 ways

Written by: Val Hemminger, Lawyer and Mediator

One way of avoiding litigation is by attending a Judicial Case Conference. This is when you have a Supreme Court of British Columbia matter is one of them. 

It is our belief at Hemminger Law Group that going to court should not be your first stop but your last stop in resolving your dispute. This is always our advice.  Although there are times when this may not be possible, it is our view that no matter how difficult or impossible a case seems, not going to court is a possibility in many more situations than you would think.

Why would you want to avoid court?

The short answer:  it is stressful and expensive. 

There are many other ways of avoiding court including having meetings with the opposing party and their lawyer, attending mediation, or attending a Family Case Conference if your matter is in the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

6 ways:

1.    Mediate;

2.    Get the other side to tell you what they want: Ask them to make an offer (it just might be something you can live with);

3.    Never litigate on the basis of principle;

4.    If you can, start your matter with the “velvet glove” approach;

5.    Before turning down the other side’s offer, consider what the real cost of litigation will be;

6.    Choose a lawyer that not only has courtroom experience, but has a history of resolving disputes.

1.    Mediate

When you mediate, you are often able to take the steps necessary for avoiding litigation. That makes things easier on the pocket book and easier on your stress levels. 

2.    Get the other side to tell you what they want: Ask them to make an offer (it just might be something you can live with) 

When people are in a dispute, they are often very concerned about what the other person wants. They often assume that the other party is going to be terribly selfish. We have all heard stories of people being very greedy and unreasonable. Don’t let these assumptions steer you needlessly into a costly litigation. 

If you are in a high conflict situation, get the other party to tell you want they want. Ask them to make an offer of settlement. Although the offer of settlement might not be exactly what you want, maybe it is something you can live with. Maybe it is something you can work with in order to resolve the dispute. 

3.    Never litigate on the basis of principle 

I was on the phone the other day with Rogers, the cell phone company. After almost an hour, I found that no matter how hard I tried, I could not get them to reverse charges that I felt that they should reverse. I was beyond furious. I felt like I was not respected as a customer, a customer that has been with that company for 15 years.

I was going to show them!

I decided by the end of the frustrating and useless phone call that I was going to sue them. I was going to sue them for the return of the money I felt that they should return to me. 

Of course, after an hour or two of stewing, I remembered the advice our firm gives to our clients: “Never Litigate on the Basis of Principle!” 

So, I calmed down and remembered that the cost in terms of time, energy and negativity in my life was not worth it and that avoiding litigation was the way to go. 

4.    Start your matter with the “velvet glove” approach if you can. 

Most of the time it is best to commence your legal matter not with filing a claim with the court registry (thus starting the litigation process), but by first contacting the opposing party to see if this matter can proceed in a different way. At the Hemminger Law Group we usually do this by sending the opposing party or their lawyer a letter that suggests avoiding litigation as a starting point. 

We call it an “Invitation Letter.” The Invitation Letter is used frequently by lawyers in Victoria, particularly those who practice in the area of family law. Even when the level of conflict is fairly high in a dispute, the Invitation Letter suggests that our client is interested in avoiding litigation (of course we confirm this with our client first – in our experience, clients are most often interested in avoiding litigation). The Invitation Letter can get the negotiation process rolling by suggesting other methods of dispute resolution such as mediation, a Judicial Case Conference, a Family Case Conference, or a 4-way meeting. 

5.    Before turning down the other side’s offer, consider what the real cost of litigation will be; 

Lawyers in British Columbia are required to bring all offers provided to them from the opposing party to our clients for consideration. 

So, before turning down any offer, think about the cost of litigation.  Add the cost of litigation to your analysis of whether or not you should accept the offer. 

An example? 

Let’s say the parties are in a dispute about money and one party thinks they are owed $100,000 and the other party is willing to pay $50,000. A lot of litigants feel that getting only 50 cents per dollar they are owed is just not good enough to settle.

For other litigants they weigh in the cost of how much it would cost their lawyer to go to trial for them (Who knows? It could be $30,000 by the time all trial procedures are done including pre-trial, the trial and post-trial procedures). They may also weigh in the benefit of having closure on their case now rather than not knowing what the result will be for many months or even years. They may also think about the stress involved. 

They may also really value the certainty of the outcome because often cases do not turn out the way people expect. If you think about all the cases that go to court each year (and there is virtually always a winner and a loser when there is a trial) someone thinks they are totally in the right and the court sees it differently. 

So, are you the kind of person that feels more comfortable with the certainty of a settlement? Or are you the person that prefers the risk of litigation in order to try getting as many of those dollars owed as possible? Each person is different and each person will decide for themselves what the real cost of court is.   

6.    Choose a lawyer that not only has courtroom experience, but has a history of resolving disputes. 

Our firm was in court this past week with a lawyer who has an amazing reputation for ensuring that every matter they have will go to court on a very contested basis.

This person has taken relatively simple legal matters (ones that should result in the parties having an agreement) to court. The litigating parties (often parents of children together) will now be at war for the rest of their lives. 

It is my belief that this lawyer is doing their clients a significant disservice. 

You want your lawyer to be a strong advocate for you who understands what you want and what your rights are, someone who will not be pushed around by another lawyer to your detriment. You want someone who is effective and at ease in the courtroom, someone who is able to get you results and litigate when absolutely required. However, you don’t want someone who is going to start an unnecessary battle that could haunt you for the rest of your life. So, when you hire a lawyer make sure they have courtroom experience and that they are also good at resolving disputes. 

Do you have a personal story about successfully avoiding litigation? What did you find useful? Or not? 

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Learn more about Judicial Case Conferences and what to expect.

If you have a legal matter on this or any other topic that you would like to discuss with a lawyer, please contact us for a consultation.

Return from Avoiding Litigation 

Phone us now at 250-220-8686 or use our contact us form.

Your initial half-hour consultation with one of our lawyers is of no obligation.

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At Hemminger Law Group we commit to providing you with the highest quality legal information on this website. However, nothing on this website should be construed as actual legal advice. Every case is different and it is important that you consult a lawyer before making any decisions with respect to a legal matter.

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