It has come to my attention as the Chair of the CBA Family Law Section that there are concerns with our Judicial Case Conferences being held in a format around boardroom table rather than in the typical format of appearing before the court. These concerns are present in cases where there are issues concerning Family Violence, namely that sitting across from the opposing party poses significant concerns.
Master Dick has been notified of this concern by Ms. Rongve. Master Dick’s response to Ms. Rongve, which sets out how we can address these concerns prior to the JCC, was forwarded to me to share with all of you and is as follows:
“Further to our discussion on the format for JCCs, I have spoken to Ms. Turner about the best way to notify the Court of any security concerns for parties or counsel at JCC’s.
Counsel should notify the Registry first and Supreme Court Scheduling second when they are aware of any concerns for the safety of the parties, counsel or court staff.
Often in the SC family files, we have no information of any Provincial Court Protection Orders made or pending or any matters pending or dealt with in any Provincial Court criminal matters.
If clients or counsel have concerns about the JCC and being in attendance, we can ask that a sheriff be in attendance, or have the parties sitting at counsel table to provide some separation.
Both the Registry and SC Scheduling should be given at least 7 days notice in advance of the hearing if there are any issues, so the Master or Judge is aware of the concerns, and the Registry can schedule the necessary staffing for the JCC (ie a sheriff).
Please feel free to distribute this information to the family bar on this issue.”