What is “Unbundling”? An Introduction to the BC Family Law Unbundling Roster

New on the Clicklaw HelpMap is the BC Family Law Unbundling Roster, filled with legal professionals across BC, who offer “unbundled” services.

This listing is managed directly by Roster Staff. To see full profiles for professionals on the list, which contains information about fee structure, supported languages and more, visit the Roster website here.

What are Unbundled Services?

In short, unbundled legal services means clients pay for some assistance depending on: (1) what they want help with and (2) what they can afford.

Most people would like to have the advice and assistance of a family lawyer, but hiring a lawyer to represent them from beginning to end is often too expensive and makes it difficult to predict total costs.

Unlike the traditional full-representation model, a lawyer providing unbundled legal services works on, and charges you for, only those tasks that you agree to in advance. You start by meeting your lawyer and, as a team, make a plan to address your legal problem. The entire matter is broken down into tasks and you choose which tasks you want help with and which ones you will handle on your own. This approach is flexible, and can be adapted to meet your needs including your budget and your comfort level with managing your own legal affairs.

Unbundling is not for everyone. The Roster website has a questionnaire that will help you decide whether it is for you.

What are some examples of Unbundled Services?

For example, if you are representing yourself in court you may want a lawyer’s help with drafting a document or pre-trial advice. If you are resolving your dispute through an out-of-court process like mediation, an unbundled lawyer can provide legal advice before mediation or draft a binding agreement after mediation.

Related Help

Do you know a lawyer or paralegal who is interested in joining?

Send them to this page on the Courthouse Libraries BC website, which offers a Sign Up link to join the BC Family Unbundling Roster, and a toolkit to assist and guide in the provision of unbundled family legal services in a safe and effective way. These core documents have been prepared with the assistance of the Law Society of BC.

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Feb. 2017 Events – (Online, Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

Wednesday, February 1 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Live Demo of the Personal Planning Registry. Register Online.

Wednesday, February 8 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Health and Personal Care. Register Online.

Wednesday, February 22 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Financial and Legal Matters. Register Online.

  • February 3-16 (Various Times): BCCLA has several events going on this month:logo_bccla

February 3-5 (Various Times) In the wake of tragedy: acting together against Islamophobia includes Vancouver and Victoria in a list of more than 30 communities taking part in vigils to mourn the loss of life that resulted from this act of terrorism.

Wednesday, February 8 (5:00-7:00pm) 2228 Oak Bay Ave, VictoriaVictoria meet-up at the Penny Farthing – Come meet Micheal and Paul, discuss current civil liberties and human rights issues, and find out if you might like to get more involved! RSVP so we know how many snacks to order.

Thursday, February 16 (7:00-8:30pm) Alice McKay Room, Lower Level, Vancouver Public Library – 350 W Georgia St, VancouverPanel – Protecting the Right to Protest: Free Speech versus Corporate Power – The aim of this roundtable discussion is to explore how we can mobilize the media to, among other issues, educate the public for the need to reform the courts to regain citizen rights to free speech and the right to dissent.

Pro Bono lawyers provide a 30-minute free legal consultation on issues related to TFWs on Immigration, Employment, Human Rights & Privacy, Admin-General and Civil Procedure. This service is for low-income migrant workers including: Low-Skilled Workers, Persons under the Live-in Caregiver Program, Agricultural Workers, etc. All clients should book an appointment at least a week before the target Clinic date. Book an appointment with the organizer.

  • February 6-16 (Various Dates): People’s Law School 1004presents the following events in Burnaby and Vancouver:

Monday, February 6 (7:00-8:30pm) Burnaby Public Library – 6100 Willingdon Avenue: Family Law – Child Access and Custody – Contact 604-436-5400 to register.

Tuesday, February 7 (12:00-1:00pm) 900 Howe Street, Vancouver: Currency Fraud – Register Online.

Wednesday, February 8 (7:00-8:30pm) Burnaby Public Library – 7311 Kingsway: Powers of Attorney, Joint Bank Accounts and Representation Agreements – Contact 604-683-4574 to register.

  • Wednesday, February 8 (6:30-8:30pm): Disability Alliance BC dabc_logopromotes a free online webinar from lawyer Ken Kramer, Q.C. on Disability & Estate Planning – Topics: Preparing a Will, Trust planning for persons with disability, Disability and Estate planning
  • February 14-17 (Various Dates): Mediate BC presents the following events in Vancouver:

Tuesday, February 14 (12:00-1:00pm) #150, 900 Howe Street, Vancouver: Games and Other Tools for Intergenerational Conflict Prevention – Register Online. (Part of Mediate BC’s Learn@Lunch Series with People’s Law School)

Wednesday, February 15 (1:30-3:00pm) Barclay Manor, 1447 Barclay Street, Vancouver: Elder Mediation: Maintain Your Voice and Your Choice – Contact 604-669-5051 to register.

Thursday, February 16 (9:30-11:00am) 900 Howe Street, Vancouver: Top 10 Things To Know About Family Mediation – Register Online. (Part of Mediate BC’s Learn@Lunch Series with People’s Law School)

Friday, February 17 (1:00-3:00pm) South Granville Seniors Centre, 1420 West 12th Ave, Vancouver: Collaborative Gaming for Seniors and Families – Drop-in.

  • Wednesday, February 15 (11:30-2:30pm): Pivot Legal Society redzonesforumpresents A Forum on Red Zones: Bail and Sentencing Conditions & Marginalized People in Vancouver at the Japanese Language School Auditorium, 487 Alexander Street, Vancouver in the DTES.

Speakers will present and comment on findings from a study conducted in Vancouver on area restrictions and other conditions and lead a discussion with participants. Free lunch will be served.

The BC Society Act, which provides the rules for governance and incorporation of non-profits, officially proclaimed important changes on November 28, 2016. There will be a two year transition period by which time all societies in BC will have to make the switch to the new Act. This workshop will provide the information on the bylaw and policy changes necessary for your organization to effectively make the transition when the new Act is proclaimed.

Register Online. Tickets are $50.

  • Monday, February 20 (6:00-8:00pm): National Self-Represented-Litigants Support Network meets in Vancouver. The group offers free support for individuals going through the difficult experience of representing themselves in family or civil court. Held at the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre at 2772 East Broadway, Vancouver. Free Parking available. RSVP to NSSN.vancouver@gmail.com.

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Nov. 2016 – Events (Province-wide, and online)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced for November. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter account.

  • website-ppm-banner-2016-1024x315November is Personal Planning Month. Nidus is putting on a series of events throughout BC. Curious about the difference between Personal Planning and Estate Planning? See this common question. Here is a breakdown of the events:
    1. In-person presentations in Vancouver and Burnaby.
    2. Webinars on personal planning viewable anywhere.
      • Courthouse Libraries BC is helping to host two of these webinars directed at intermediaries (community workers, librarians) on Medical Assistance in Dying (Oct. 25 – tomorrow!) and Personal Planning tools (Nov. 10) – register here.
    3. Public Libraries hosting group viewings of select webinars:
      • Capilano, Lynn Valley, Parkgate (North Vancouver)
      • Grand Forks & District
      • Kitimat
      • Trail & District
      • Williams Lake
      • Hazelton
      • Lillooet

 

  • Thursday, November 3 (6:30-9:30pm): BC FIPA is turning 25 and holding a celebratory soiree at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver.

Their “goal for the future is to better engage and educate the public about the importance of freedom of information and protection of privacy. By attending our Celebratory Soiree, you’ll help pave the way.” Show your support, and enjoy an evening of food, drinks and live entertainment! Register for tickets here.

  • Friday, November 4 (5:00-7:30pm): Attend a Panel Discussion on The Fate of Women, Marginalized Refugees and Asylum Seekers at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBCubc_liunov2016 (Vancouver campus). The UBC Opera Ensemble, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC Community Engagement, the Faculty of Arts, the Peter A. Allard School of Law, Green College, St. John’s College, Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC), and other partners have come together to host the program. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #RefugeeUBC. Register here.
    • Moderator: Efrat Arbel, Assistant Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law
    • Panelists:
      Malcom Atia, aspiring actor, arrived in Canada as a refugee from Uganda
      Fadi Yachoua, Syrian refugee lawyer
      Kerstin Walter, Director, Settlement Orientation Services
      Chris Morrissey, Rainbow Refugee Committee

 

  • Monday, November 14 (12:30-2pm): If you are involved with a pre-existing society, you have likely heard about the Societies Act transition that will affect 27,000 lfnp_clbcsuch societies in B.C. Register for this free webinar hosted by Law For Non-Profits and Courthouse Libraries BC.

Martha Rans will provide useful information on the bylaw and policy changes necessary for your organization to effectively make the transition.

  • November 16-23 (Various Dates): BCCLA is hosting and co-hosting a number of workshops and conferences in November on everything from Charter litigation to Media Democracylogo_bccla
    (free), and a Youth and Civil Liberties Conference for students! See more info on how to register here.

 

  • November 19-26 is Conflict Resolution Week! Invite a Mediate BC mediator to your workplace or organizational office during the week of Nov. 19th-26th to host a free Learn@Lunch!conflictresolutionweek2016 You provide the lunch, they provide the presenter! Email training@mediatebc.com for more information. Other in-person events include:
    • Monday, November 21 (12:00-1:00pm): Learn @ Lunch series with People’s Law School in Vancouver. Join mediator and collaborative game developer Sharon Sutherland in an exploration of the ways in which playing (and creating) tabletop games can improve individual and group skills in collaborative problem solving!
    • There are more free and paid events on Mediation, including conflict resolution for Small Business. See all events here.

 

  • Tuesday, November 22 (7:00-8:30pm): Emily’s Choice: A Child Protection Story screening at VPL in Vancouver. Come to Vancouver Public Library emilyschoice(Central Branch) for a screening of Emily’s Choice: A Child Protection Story. Afterwards, there will be a panel discussion about the child protection process and the challenges of preserving the welfare and safety of children in our communities.
    • Developed by Legal Services Society and the Healthy Aboriginal Network, Emily’s Choice is a graphic novel and video that use story and imagery to tell the story of Emily and her son, Greg. Emily is struggling with addiction and an unhealthy relationship. She loves her son, Greg, but can’t always take care of him. When Greg goes into foster care, Emily gets legal help and the support of her family to get Greg back.

     

  • Monday, November 28 (6:00-8:00pm): National Self-Represented-Litigants Support Network meets in Vancouver. The group offers free support for individuals going through the difficult experience of representing themselves in family or civil court. Held at the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre at 2772 East Broadway, Vancouver. Free Parking available. RSVP to NSSN.vancouver@gmail.com.
  • Stay informed:

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Sept. 2016 – Events (Victoria, Vancouver, online)

  • 0x_adviceathonAccess Pro Bono is holding their annual Free Legal Advice-a-Thon. They’re wrapping up this year’s event in Victoria, Centennial Square this Friday, September 16, from 10am to 2pm.

 

  • srl_supportThe National SRL Support NetworkVancouver Branch, is holding their next meeting for people representing themselves in Family or Civil Court next Monday, September 19, from 6-8pm at Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre. Attendees should RSVP to NSSN.vancouver@gmail.com.

 

 

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  • People’s Law School is holding their open house on Thursday, September 22 from 11am – 3pm at their 150-900 Howe Street location. Learn about wills and get a Justice Theatre Presentation on online bullying. Advanced registration is required. Call 604-331-5400.

 

 

  • 0x_bcinfosummitRegister now for the BC Information Summit! The event is organized BC FIPA, and will have expert speakers (including speakers from organizations like BCCLA) who are involved in how the world of freedom of information and privacy is changing. Thursday, September 22, 8:15am – 5pm.

 

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Access to Justice BC

a2j_logoAccess to Justice BC is British Columbia’s response to a national call for action to make family and civil justice more accessible. It is a forum to facilitate open communication and collaborative working relationships among justice system stakeholders.

The following entry is a cross-post from the Access to Justice BC website

By Mr. Justice Robert J. Bauman
The Honourable Chief Justice of British Columbia
Chair of Access to Justice BC


Welcome to the Access to Justice BC website. It is my sincere pleasure to launch what I anticipate will become a series of updates communicating the activities and progress of Access to Justice BC. I look forward to reaching people across our province who are interested in and concerned about the extent to which the civil justice system is accessible in BC. I want to provide information about what Access to Justice BC is doing about the problem, and to invite you to tell us how well we are doing.

In this posting, I will describe a bit about Access to Justice BC and explain what encouraged me get involved with the initiative.

Access to Justice BC started when a few of the province’s justice leaders and thinkers took to heart the recommendation of the National Action Committee to create a provincial forum dedicated to improving access to justice. The small group of people grew larger and came to involve the major legal institutions in the province, and eventually representatives from organizations outside of the justice system as well. The rationale for this broad membership is to foster an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach to the issue, hopefully leading to better ideas and a greater willingness to experiment (and to take risks).

Access to Justice BC got off the ground in 2015 with a handful of meetings addressing the processes that the group will follow and deciding on a first target for action within the civil justice system: family law. Running parallel to the full Access to Justice BC meetings have been a multitude of smaller sub-committee meetings, working on strategy, communications and planning issues.

The most recent full meeting of Access to Justice BC, which I will describe in more detail in a separate posting, took place in February of this year and put to the test the creative thinking and commitment of the group. A number of concrete initiatives were identified for exploration, and I will be reporting on these initiatives as they progress.

What drew me to join Access to Justice BC? Like many people involved in the civil justice system, I am sorely aware of its shortcomings. Don’t get me wrong; I’m also proudly aware of its strengths and successes. But when I see litigants struggling to navigate complex court processes on their own, or when I consider the unknown number of people in BC who, thwarted by the potential cost, don’t pursue their legal rights, I have to ask myself: is the justice system there for everyone who needs it? If not, what are we doing wrong? Are there minor fixes to address some problems, or is a complex overhaul required? Conversely, what aspects of the system (or of another system for that matter) are working well? Is there a way to transpose those successes to certain areas of civil justice or to scale them upwards?

Access to Justice BC does not pretend to have the answers to these questions. The access problem isn’t something that can be solved by a group of people thinking hard in a room. It is a complex problem that may require multiple innovative solutions and, in order to reach those solutions, some degree of trial and error. It will also take hard work and, yes, in some cases resources.

I hope that you will visit our website and follow our progress over the next year.

– Bob Bauman, Chief Justice of British Columbia


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Mediation Advisors Now Available to Assist People with Civil Disputes

By Mediate BC

logo_mediatebc

Are you having a conflict with someone that you need help to resolve?

Unsure what to do or where to go for help?

The Mediation Advisor service can help you figure out what your options are and link you with resources to put your plan in place. Best of all, this service is available free of charge thanks to funding provided by the Law Foundation of British Columbia and Family Justice Services Division.

What is a “civil dispute”?

A civil dispute is a disagreement between any two parties outside of separation and divorce, personal injury, child protection or criminal matters. Some examples of civil disputes are workplace conflicts, landlord tenant issues, human rights, wills and estates.

If you are unsure whether your situation applies, call the Mediate BC office and we will help you identify if your matter is a civil dispute.

How can they help?AboutImgPlaceholder

 The Mediation Advisor can:

  • help you sort out the facts of your case,
  • identify the various options to resolve your dispute, and
  • link you to resources to put your plan into action.

The Mediation Advisor can call the person you are in conflict with and see if it is possible to resolve the issue over the phone. If further conversation about the matter is required, the Mediation Advisor can connect you with a pro bono or low cost mediator to assist with more in-depth exploration of solutions.

Other possible resources they can connect you with are lawyers to obtain legal advice, or community resources that specialize in the issue you need assistance addressing.

What if I live outside of the Lower Mainland?CatchAll

The great news is that the Mediation Advisor is often able to assist people over the phone! You do not need to live in Vancouver or Victoria to access this service.

You can phone from the comfort of your home and the Mediation Advisor can assist you. This service is meant to support all residents of BC.

Where to Find Us

The Mediation Advisors are located at the Vancouver and Victoria Justice Access CentresPhone to book an appointment at the numbers below:

Victoria Mediation Advisor
225 – 850 Burdett Ave
Victoria, BC V8W 1B4
Phone: 250-356-6128
Vancouver Mediation Advisor
290 – 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C5
Phone: 604-660-8406

 

 

Stay informed with Mediate BC:

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Justice Access Centres (JACs) – Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo

What can JACs help you with?

Family and civil law issues: separation, divorce, income security, employment, housing and debt.

A range of information and services are available, designed to help you find an early and affordable solution.

If you don’t live in Vancouver, Victoria or Nanaimo, see “How Can I Get in Touch?” at the end of this post for phone numbers you can call for information.

Specific services that JACs offer:

freepik_discussion
Get help with and information about court forms, civil legislation, court procedures, mediation, and more.

You can:

  • meet with intake staff who assess your needs;
  • get informed about the Family Law Act, the Divorce Act, and various other civil-related legislation;
  • get informed about the different levels of court and related court procedures;
  • get a referral to a mediator (family justice counsellors and other mediation options), other dispute resolution professionals, legal services and community resources;
  • access Provincial and Supreme Court forms; and
  • get help with court forms and access computers and dedicated staff for assistance in the Self Help Resource Room (In Nanaimo, if you would like self-help assistance, book an appointment with an interviewer in advance. You can also get help with simple forms on the phone.)

Help from Partnering Agencies at some JAC locations:

01_Clicklaw_30pxMediate BC Society:

Practical, accessible, and affordable choices to prevent, manage and resolve non-family civil disputes (any kind of dispute outside of: separation and divorce, personal injury, child protection or criminal matters).

Vancouver and Victoria have an onsite Mediation Advisor who can explore and help connect people to civil mediators; Nanaimo clients are referred to Victoria.

01_Clicklaw_30pxLegal Services Society:

Family Duty Counsel (FDC) and Family Advice Lawyer (FAL) services (Provincial and Supreme Courts) are available for those who are seeking legal advice in relation to family matters and who do not qualify for legal representation through Legal Aid. FDC and FAL can provide advice about:

  • parenting time or contact / access;
  • guardianship / custody, parenting responsibilities;
  • child support;
  • applications, variations of child support, enforcement;
  • tentative settlement agreements;
  • court procedures; and
  • property (limited advice).

Note: FDC/FAL will not take on your whole case or represent you at a trial.

Aboriginal Community Legal Worker services are available in Nanaimo.

01_Clicklaw_30pxFamily Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP):

FMEP is a BC Ministry of Justice service that helps families and children entitled to spousal support or child support under a maintenance order or agreement.

The Vancouver JAC has an onsite outreach worker to help with the process, and provides information about enrolment, enforcement or changing an order.

Vancouver and Nanaimo JACs only.
01_Clicklaw_30pxCredit Counselling Society:

Free and confidential help for consumers. A Counsellor will review your monthly budget, including: income, expenses and debt payments, and can provide information and guidance to help you make informed, financial decisions.

Vancouver JAC only.

01_Clicklaw_30pxAccess Pro Bono (APB):

APB offers a number of programs which are offered onsite at the JAC (by appointment only, see contact info at end of post):

  • Legal Advice Clinic – Volunteer lawyers provide 30 minute free legal advice appointments for civil and family law issues. Call for financial criteria.
  • Wills Clinic Program – In partnership with the federal Department of Justice and the Provincial Ministry of Justice, APB operates a Wills clinic for low-income seniors (ages 55+) and people with terminal illnesses.
  • Court Form Preparation Clinic (Paralegal Program) – Vancouver JAC only. In partnership with Amici Curiae; support for self-represented litigants who need assistance in preparing BC Supreme Court, BC Court of Appeal, and BC Human Rights Tribunal documents.

How can I get in touch?

  • The Self Help Resource Rooms are in-person ONLY (no telephone assistance).
  • Reception and Intake Services can be reached by phone or drop-in.
jac_vancouverVancouver JAC

Located at the Vancouver Provincial Courthouse, #290-800 Hornby Street.

Hours are M-F, 8am-5pm, extended hours until 7pm on Wednesday by appointment, until 5:15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Self-Help Resource room is open 8:30-4pm.

Call 604.660.2084 or toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to 604.660.2084. The centre serves Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.

jac_victoriaVictoria JAC

Located at 225 – 850 Burdett Avenue.

Hours are M-F 8am-5:30pm, extended hours until 6:30 on Thursday. Self-Help Resource Room is open 9-4pm.

Call 250.356.7012 or toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to 250.356.7012. The centre serves Victoria and the surrounding south Vancouver Island and Gulf Island communities. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.

jac_nanaimoNanaimo JAC

Located at 302 – 65 Front St.

Hours are M-F 8-5:30pm, with extended hours on Wednesday until 7pm by appointment only.

Call 250 741-5447 or 1-800-578-8511. The centre serves Nanaimo and the surrounding mid-Island communities. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.

Note: JACs are not able to provide support or services for criminal issues, small claims court forms and filings, and some other specific legal solutions.

Get informed with JACs:

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#WhyNotMediate: Conflict Resolution Week starts Oct. 17

By Mediate BC 

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Take a look behind the scenes to understand how mediation works

Mediate BC is hosting BC’s second annual Conflict Resolution Week, October 17-24, 2015.

During the week of October 17-24, Mediate BC and its Roster mediators will be organizing events throughout the province to build awareness of healthy ways to resolve conflicts, including mediation.

The Conflict Resolution Week 2015 theme is “Why Not Mediate?

#WhyNotMediate is the event’s official hashtag.

Mediation is a great option for many people because it’s private, has more flexibility in resolutions and typically is faster and less expensive than going to court. It saves people time, money and stress and allows them to get back to what’s important to them,” says Mediate BC’s CEO Monique Steensma. Steensma is supported by studies that show mediation to be an effective, affordable, timely and accessible option.

Check out free events in your local community.

Mediators invite you to take a “behind the scenes” look at the mediation process and what they do through a series of videos posted at mediatebc.com: Click here for the Behind the Scenes Videos

For questions and information contact: 1-877-656-1300 ext. 104 or training@mediatebc.com.

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More Help Available for Families Experiencing Separation and Divorce – Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project

About Mediation Page
Mediation help for separation and divorce

By Kari Boyle
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Mediate BC

Are you going through a separation or divorce? Would you like to avoid the time, money and stress involved with going to court? Mediate BC is a not-for-profit society that provides people with practical, accessible and affordable choices for resolving their disputes. With funding from the Law Foundation of BC, Mediate BC has launched the Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project this Spring to help families experiencing divorce and separation to access mediation services at fees which are set based on the family’s net income and assets/debts.

What are the benefits of mediation?
Family mediators will help you reach decisions about issues such as: property division, child and spousal support, parenting time and guardianship without going to court. This approach promotes a healthy relationship with the participants and any children involved, and can also save you time, money and stress.

How do I get started?
Visit our website or call the Sliding Scale Project Mediation Coordinator, Maria Silva, at 1-877-656-1300 ext. 108 for more information. She will help you decide if this program is the right choice for you.

What if I or my ex-spouse/partner qualify for Legal Aid?
You may be eligible for the Family Mediation Referral Program which provides the first six hours of family mediation services at no charge to your family.  To apply for this service, visit a Legal Aid office or contact the LSS Call Centre.

Below are some of Mediate BC’s other services and resources:
–    About Mediation: information on mediation, including the role of a mediator and how to choose one.
–    Roster Mediator Directories: searchable directories of civil, family, and child protection mediators to assist people in selecting a suitable mediator to resolve their dispute.
–    Public Education and Training: offers free public seminars on mediation and professional development opportunities for dispute resolution practitioners.

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Online Dispute Resolution in British Columbia

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b


The increase in number of self-represented litigants has created need for justice reform. The cost and time associated with bringing an action to court has urged the BC Government to re-examine the justice system and to take a closer look at needs and requirements of people looking to resolve disputes.

A shoutout to Freepik for this great graphic.
Resolve your dispute online–anytime, anywhere.

A BC Judges report (p. 19) in 2010 showed that 90% of Small Claims parties are self-represented; it can take up to 16 months (p. 27) for a small claims case to be heard. At the higher court level, less than 3% (p. 90) of BC Supreme Court civil cases ever make it to trial. These barriers form ongoing frustrations for the public trying to navigate a daunting court system on their own with limited resources.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is an online platform that allows parties in a dispute the chance to come together online either in real time or at each party’s convenience to negotiate, reach an agreement and avoid going to court. Other jurisdictions, such as the UK Judiciary, have examined ODR. BC is also looking at merging modern technology with the traditional court system to resolve disputes.

The government established the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) in 2012 with the idea to increase access to justice. As as a new part of BC’s justice system, they are building from the ground up and expect to have it working later this year. The concept envisions an online dispute platform that can be accessed by the parties 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Primary focus will be on small claims matters and strata property disputes. The CRT builds on lessons gleaned from a number of pilot projects tested previously in BC.

In 2011 the BC Ministry of Justice started testing ODR, with initial focus on tenancy and consumer disputes. Participation was voluntary. The case volumes were low but results proved encouraging in terms of resolution and user satisfaction.

Today in BC, ODR experimenting continues with organisations such as Consumer Protection BC, BC Property Assessment Appeal Board and Small Claims BC. Mediate BC tested ODR for family matters.

Legal Services Society’s upcoming MyLawBC may give future consideration to the ODR platform: “The MyLawBC platform…could be expanded to include online mediation and arbitration services.”

A future blog post will give a glimpse into how ODR is utilized by Consumer Protection BC and Small Claims BC. We tested their dispute resolution tools and will walk you through the processes. To be continued…

Update 05/13/2015: See Case Study #1 on Consumer Protection BC’s ODR platform here.

Photo Credit: Freepik

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