What is a Case Management Conference in Quebec civil procedures?
How does it work?
What are the essential elements you should know!
In this article, we will break down the notion of a Case Management Conference so you know all there is to know about it!
Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!
Let’s dig into our rules of civil procedures in Quebec!
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Table of Contents
What Is A Case Management Conference
A case management conference refers to a session held by the court along with the parties to a civil lawsuit in order to become aware of the facts of the case and the issues in law and see what measures to take for the orderly conduct of the proceedings.
A “case management conference” can be convened by the court or requested by the parties to the lawsuit (plaintiff or defendant).
Typically, the court will review and assess the case protocol submitted by the parties and have the parties either agree to certain case management aspects or impose the appropriate measures on the parties.
It’s important that all parties be present during the case conference to ensure they can provide the court with their views on the case or clarify questions the court may have.
If a party is absent, the court will hear the party that is present and order case management measures.
Case Management Conference Legal Definition
The Code of Civil Procedures (CCP) in Quebec provides for the case management conference mechanism.
Article 153 CCP states:
At the case management conference convened on the court’s own initiative or on request, the court acquaints itself with the issues of fact or law in dispute, examines the case protocol, discusses it with the parties and takes the appropriate case management measures. If it considers it useful, the court may require undertakings from the parties as to the further conduct of the proceeding, or subject the proceeding to certain conditions.
As you can see, the Quebec rules of civil procedure generally indicate that:
- The court will acquaint itself with the complaint (or lawsuit)
- Review the case protocol submitted by the parties
- Take the appropriate measures for the case to move forward
- Can require undertaking from the parties
- Can subject the legal proceedings to certain conditions
Power To Hear Parties At The Case Management Conference
What’s notable is that a court may decide to hold a hearing of the parties on the day a case management conference is scheduled on matters such as:
- Hearing the defendant present preliminary exceptions
- Hearing the defendant on the its grounds of defence
A preliminary exception is a motion filed by the defendant to contest the jurisdiction of the court, seeking the dismissal of the case for certain legal grounds or technicalities.
In Quebec civil procedures, the defence is presented orally or offered with a brief written statement.
Generally, the case protocol has a section where the defendant outlines its grounds of defence.
What’s also notable is that the court has the power to hear the parties and try the case immediately if the defence is oral and the parties are ready to proceed.
Power To Stay Proceedings
There are situations where the court may exercise its powers to stay the proceeding for a duration it considers appropriate.
Particularly, if the parties are able to establish that they are in serious settlement negotiations or litigating the matter may be disproportionate in the circumstances, the court may decide to stay (or pause) the proceedings giving the parties a chance to settle the case.
However, if the negotiations fail or the parties cannot reach a settlement, then the court can lift the stay and order the continuation of the matter.
Case Management Decisions
The decisions of the court, its orders, or rulings are recorded in the minutes of the hearing by the court clerk.
Such decisions are legally binding on the parties and are considered to be part of the parties’ case protocol.
In other words, if a party does not comply with the order of the court dealing with various aspects of the court case, the party may be exposed to sanctions such as paying for the legal costs of the parties injured due to the party’s failure to respect its obligations.
Case Management Measures
At any point during the advancement of legal proceedings, the court has the power to render decisions, of its own initiative or at the request of the parties, intended to “manage” the case or legal proceedings.
Article 158 CCP provides the scope of the different “measures” the court may take to ensure that eventually the case is heard and justice rendered, namely:
- Measures to simplify the case
- Expedite the proceedings
- Shortening the trial
- Better defining the issues in dispute
- Decide on the length of the trial
- Assess the purpose and usefulness of getting an expert opinion
- Define how to conduct pre-trial examinations
- Order the notification of persons who may be affected by the case or have interests
- Modify case protocols
- Rule on special requests
- Decide if a defence will be written or oral
- Extend time limit for trial readiness
- Issue safeguard orders
In essence, the court is given broad powers to ensure proper and reasonable measures are taken for the legal action to reasonably advance and eventually be heard on its merits.
Case Management Conferences Takeaways
So what is a Case Management Conference?
What can the court do on a case management conference hearing date?
How does the process work?
Keep in mind that this article is general in nature intended to provide you high-level guidance on the case management procedures in the context of a civil lawsuit filed in Quebec.
If you have a particular case pending before the Quebec courts and you need legal advice or guidance on managing a case management conference, you should consult or call an experienced attorney.
Litigation lawyers, civil law lawyers, or any attorney dealing with courts and lawsuits will be in a position to assess the circumstances of your case and provide you with a proper assessment of your rights and obligations.
With that said, let’s look at a summary of our findings.
Case Management Conference (Civil Courts In Quebec)
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