Civil & Family Case Management
Purpose of Case Management
Under the Alberta Rules of Court, parties to litigation are responsible for managing their dispute and planning its resolution in a timely and cost-effective way: If a party or the Court is not satisfied that the parties are managing their litigation responsibly, there are several options available under Rule 4.11:
- a procedural Order;
- a conference under Rule 4.10;
- Case Management (CM) under Rules 4.12, 4.13 and 4.14; and
- an Order for a specific direction or remedy.
A conference under Rule 4.10 is a hearing with a representative of the Court to discuss issues and options that may assist the parties to manage or resolve their litigation or both. The Chief Justice (CJ) or the Associate Chief Justice (ACJ) may direct or recommend a conference under Rule 4.10 before assessing whether or not a case requires CM or as an alternative to CM. A party may also file an application under Rule 4.10(3) requesting a conference.
Unlike a conference under Rule 4.10, which is intended to provide short-term assistance with litigation management, CM involves the appointment of a Case Management Justice (CMJ) under Rule 4.13 and takes place over a longer period of time, typically continuing until the issues in dispute between the parties have been resolved through settlement or at trial.CM may involve identifying issues, discussing resolution, making interim and procedural rulings, and creating and facilitating a litigation plan to move the matter to settlement or trial.
Neither a conference under Rule 4.10 nor the appointment of a CMJ under Rule 4.13 relieves parties of responsibility for managing their dispute and planning its resolution in a timely and cost-effective way as required by Rule 4.1.
On occasion, a Justice may seize themselves of a case for the purpose of dealing with a particular step or issue in the litigation. This is not the same as CM because the seized Justice has not been appointed as the CMJ by the CJ or the ACJ under Rule 4.13. If a Justice is seized of a case that requires ongoing involvement by the Court, the parties or the seized Justice should ask the CJ or the ACJ to appoint a CMJ, which may often be the formerly-seized Justice.
Appointment of Case Management Justices
CM is mandatory for cases: class proceedings (Rule 4.12(3)); cases involving civil juries (Rule 8.2(5)); and cases involving Family Law Practice Note 5. The CJ or the ACJ may also appoint a CMJ in other types of cases for one or more of the following reasons:
- to encourage the parties to participate in a dispute resolution process;
- to promote and ensure the fair and efficient conduct and resolution of the case;
- to keep the parties on schedule; and
- to facilitate preparation for trial and scheduling a trial date.
In cases where the decision to appoint a CMJ is not mandatory, one or more of the following factors may be considered in determining whether or not to appoint a CMJ:
- the case involves Family Law Practice Notes 7 or 8;
- there are complex issues to be resolved;
- there is a high level of conflict between the parties;
- there have been numerous applications;
- there are multiple parties;
- the case has been in the Court system for an unduly long period of time without resolution;
- a Justice recommended CM or directed the parties to apply for CM; and
- any other compelling reason.
To request a CMJ, parties must submit a request to using the request form below. Other parties to the case may advise the Court of their position on the request for a CMJ by submitting a response.
Pending further review, responsibility for the assignment of Civil and Family case management is as follows:
Civil and Family case management assignment responsibilities in Calgary and Drumheller will be handled by Associate Chief Justice D. Blair Nixon.
Civil and Family case management assignment responsibilities in Red Deer will be handled by Justice Marilyn Slawinsky insofar as they relate to the assignment of local resident justices. If such assignment requires a non-resident justice, the case management application shall be directed to the Chief Justice.
- Civil and Family case management assignment responsibilities in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat will be handled by Justice Johnna Kubik insofar as they relate to the assignment of local resident justices. If such assignment requires a non-resident justice, the case management application shall be directed to the Associate Chief Justice
Request for the Appointment of a Case Management Justice
Response to a Request for the Appointment of a Case Management Justice
After considering the Request Form, and the Response Form where one is provided, a letter will be sent to the parties advising whether CM has been granted. If CM is granted, a CMJ will be appointed. The CMJ may communicate with the parties setting out directions for the CM of the case, which may include: requiring agendas and other materials before CM hearings; setting filing and other requirements for CM hearings; establishing a process for parties to communicate with the CMJ; and, in some cases, requiring parties to obtain leave from the CMJ before filing any application.
In cases where a request to appoint a CMJ is refused, parties may still request or be offered a conference under Rule 4.10, or they may submit a new request for CM based on new or better information.
Note: As per the Notice to the Profession and Public, dated October 9, 2019, Justices hearing Chambers applications will no longer refer matters to the Chief Justice or the Associate Chief Justice with a recommendation that the matter be placed under case management, Instead, Chambers Justices will direct parties seeking case management to request a Rule 4.10 Case Conference, in which the suitability of the matter for case management will be carefully assessed, along with the completion of a litigation plan and other alternative resolution processes. Following receipt of this direction from a Chambers Justice, counsel/parties may write to the Associate Chief Justice (ACJ Nielsen for Edmonton (including Hinton), Red Deer and Wetaskiwin and ACJ Rooke for Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Drumheller) or to Chief Justice Moreau for the other Regional Judicial Centres to request the assignment of a justice to conduct the case conference, supported by a proposed litigation plan. The Supervising Justices in Red Deer/Wetaskiwin and in Lethbridge/Medicine Hat may also direct matters to Rule 4.10 Case Conferences and assign matters into case management with resident Justices in those Judicial Centres.
Similarly, requests for case management, supported by a proposed litigation plan, made directly by parties or counsel to the Associate Chief Justice (ACJ Nielsen for Edmonton, Red Deer and Wetaskiwin and Acting ACJ Jeffrey for Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Drumheller) or to Chief Justice Moreau for the other Regional Judicial Centres, will continue to be considered, but they may, at their discretion, order the parties to a Rule 4.10 Case Conference, where the suitability of the matter for case management will be assessed.
Role of Case Management Justices
Under Rule 4.14, a CMJ may:
- order the parties to take steps to identify, simplify or clarify the real issues in dispute;
- establish, substitute or amend a complex case litigation plan and order the parties to
- comply with it;
- make an Order to facilitate a step in the case;
- make an Order to promote the fair and efficient resolution of the case by trial;
- facilitate the parties’ efforts to resolve the case or any issue in the case through a dispute resolution process other than trial; and
- make any procedural Order that the CMJ considers necessary.
Unless otherwise directed, the CMJ must hear every application in a case that is under CM (Rule 4.14(2)). Parties must always obtain the CMJ’s approval to schedule an application before another Justice or in Chambers. Unless the parties and the CMJ agree otherwise, the CMJ will not hear an application for judgment by way of summary trial or preside at the trial of the case (Rule 4.15).
The Rules and applicable Practice Notes and Notices to the Profession and Public continue to apply to parties whose cases are under CM unless the CMJ directs otherwise.
Removal of Cases From Case Management
CM is intended to be a time-limited process with a definite end point. Cases will automatically be removed from CM at the conclusion of trial unless otherwise ordered. CMJs may remove cases from CM at any time if they determine that CM is no longer required, for instance, if there has been no activity for an extended period of time. If a case under CM settles or there is no longer a requirement for CM for any other reason, parties should contact their CMJ to request that the case be removed from CM. After a case is removed from CM, parties who wish to return to CM must submit a new request to the CJ or the ACJ under Rule 4.12.