Judicial Case Conferences in Supreme Court

A Judicial Case Conference (JCC) is a private, informal one-hour meeting with a Supreme Court judge or master and the other party (and your lawyers if you have them).

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When do I have to attend a JCC?

You have to attend a JCC before you can apply for a final or interim order and the other party doesn't agree with what you're asking for. This is called a contested Chambers application.

Either party can also request to have a JCC at any time. A JCC is a good opportunity for both of you to try settling your issues with the judge's help.

You don't have to attend a JCC if you are asking for a court order:

  • that the other party agrees to (a consent order),
  • without notice to the other party,
  • that says spouses "have no reasonable prospect of reconciliation,"
  • to change a final order (also known as a "variation" application),
  • that stops one spouse from disposing of property (selling, mortgaging, etc.) to which the other spouse may have a claim,
  • to set aside or replace an agreement, or
  • to change or set aside a parenting coordinator's decision.

Can I ask to be excused from a JCC?

Yes. You can ask the court to excuse you from attending the JCC if:

  • your family matter is urgent and must be resolved quickly;
  • it's too soon to have a JCC;
  • it would be unfair, inappropriate, or unmanageable to have a JCC;
  • it could be dangerous to your health or safety to delay your application or to require a JCC; or
  • the judge or master decides it's appropriate to excuse you.

To find out how to apply to be excused from a JCC, see Step 1 of our self-help guide How to deal with a Judicial Case Conference.

How do I prepare for a JCC?

To prepare for the JCC, follow the steps set out in our self-help guide How to deal with a Judicial Case Conference.

What happens at a JCC?

A JCC is more informal than a court hearing. You'll sit around a table with the other party, your lawyers (if you have them), and the judge or master. You may be in a conference room or a courtroom. You won't be expected to stand up, and the judge or master won't be wearing his or her robes. Even if you have a lawyer, the judge or master will want to hear directly from you. The judge or master will probably start by finding out what you agree on and what you don't agree on.

At the JCC, the judge or master can:

  • clearly identify which issues need to be decided;
  • explore if some or all of your issues can be settled with his or her help;
  • mediate between you on any issues you can't agree on;
  • make any orders that both parties agree to (consent orders);
  • refer you to a private family dispute resolution professional like a mediator or parenting coordinator;
  • send you to a family justice counsellor, Parenting After Separation course, or child support officer);
  • make orders about the process, including when things should happen (for example, when court hearings and exchanges of information will happen and what information you need to exchange); or
  • give a non-binding opinion (this is the judge's opinion only, that can't be legally enforced).

What happens at a JCC is confidential. If the judge or master needs evidence to decide on an issue, you will have to go to a hearing. A JCC isn't the place to make decisions about substantial issues if the two of you don't agree.

What happens if one of the parties doesn't show up for the JCC?

If one or more of the parties who were supposed to attend doesn't show up, the judge or master can still do all the things listed above if:

  • he or she considers that the circumstances justify it, and
  • it's fair to do so in the missing party's absence.

The judge or master can also order that the party who didn't show up pay the costs of the party who did attend.

Can I attend by phone?

Telephone conferences are available, but you have to specially request one from the trial coordinator.

What happens if we don't settle our case at the JCC?

If you can't agree at the JCC, the judge or master usually takes the next steps to move toward a trial where a judge will make decisions for you. If the judge has ordered that you try mediation or another type of family dispute resolution, or that your child see a counsellor, that will have to happen before anyone can take the next steps toward a trial.

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