Justice Efficiencies and
Access to the Justice System
The goal of case management is that each appearance be effective and timely, and that duplication and waste of effort be avoided. Expectations and standards should be clear and reasonable so that each sector can rely on the other to meet its commitments. Care should be taken to ensure that expectations clearly fall within a sector’s role and articulate a healthy relationship between sectors so they are not seen as mere attempts at off-loading or cost shifting.
With this as a model, we recommend the following:
Establishment of Advisory Committees:
- There should be permanent case standards advisory committees in each province and territory established by the Chief Justice or Chief Judge to collaboratively identify expectations and standards in respect of case management, and the means by which conformity to them may be measured and enforced.
- Depending on local factors such as the size of the jurisdiction, the number of courts, the geography, it may be desirable to establish more than one committee (per level of court) or to establish subcommittees.
- The committees should be composed of representatives of the justice sectors including, the bench, Crown, defense Bar and court administration. Local committees may consider including representatives from the police on such committees either generally or on an issue-by-issue basis.
Role of Committees:
The committees should:
- see their role as recommending to the Chief Justice or Chief Judge the most appropriate means to address local case management issues.
- collaboratively identify expectations and standards in respect of case management that are specific to each of the justice sectors.
- review and make recommendations to Chief Justice/Chief Judge or Attorney General (as appropriate) on whether the expectations and standards should be embodied in rules, practice directives, guidelines or some combination of all three depending on the substance.
- make a statement of principles including:
- Effective management of cases is a shared responsibility;
- It is the duty of the parties to resolve issues that can be resolved without a judge and to efficiently present to a judge those issues which cannot;
- Judges not only have the right to insist that parties are prepared to present and argue cases when they come to court but judges have a duty to the parties and the public to insist that they are.
Tools to Use or Recommend:
- Self-Management Through Checklists
- Each sector, including the judiciary, should be encouraged to develop their own checklists and other guides which aid memory and delegation of routine tasks. Checklists are common in many areas of practice today. While it would be advantageous to develop them pursuant to the Committee’s expectations and standards, if there is no committee or it is proceeding slowly, each sector is encouraged to develop checklists on its own, being careful to consult the other sectors.
- Without departing from local control, we see merit in national organizations (such as the National Judicial Institute, the CBA, and other organizations representing the Bar, including organizations of defence counsel and Crown Attorneys'), developing model checklists as a means of articulating best practices and validating key sector responsibilities for case management.
- Identification and Use of Key Indicators
- The Committee should identify key indicators - information each sector requires to monitor the flow of the mass of cases and the progress of each case against the stated expectations.
- The indicators should be reported regularly, in an understandable format, and should not be so excessive in number or detail as to overwhelm the user or producer. The purpose of key indicators is to call attention to possible problems so further analysis can take place.
- Selection of key indicators is also a local matter since conditions vary widely between jurisdictions but should include
- The number of cases in the system,
- The number of appearances per case,
- If possible, the intended purpose of each appearance and whether an appearance achieved its intended purpose,
- “Backlog” or next available dates.
- The key indicator report should be a publicly available document.
- Ideally, the key indicator report should be specific to court location in the interests of transparency and accountability, and so remedial action, such as resource deployment, can be taken quickly. However, initially it may be necessary to blend information, at least in the publicly available report, in order to ease the transition to a case management culture.
- Self-Management Through Checklists
Further consideration should be given to streamlining the process provided in the Criminal Code for creating case management systems:
- Consideration should be given to amending s. 482 of the Criminal Code to facilitate local rule making. We doubt the requirement of publication in the Canada Gazette is worth the time it consumes and we see the procedural distinction between rules made by superior courts and provincial courts as archaic.
- Date modified: