Federation of Ontario Law Associations


What is one-judge case management?


The impetus for this pilot was a report of the Judiciary Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers. The report, titled Working Smarter But Not Harder in Canada: the Development of a Unified Approach to Case Management in Civil Litigation, discussed the benefits of having the case management judge also preside at the trial of a matter.

The pilot includes the following features:

  1. A judge that has been assigned to case-manage an action will preside over all pre-trial hearings, case management conferences, and the trial. This will allow the judge to become entirely familiar with the issues in the dispute. The only exception is for case conferences that are dedicated solely to settlement discussions; a different judge will preside over these case conferences in order to allow the parties to freely discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case and discuss the parties’ willingness to compromise their positions in an effort to find common ground.
  2. No formal interlocutory motions will be scheduled in cases assigned to the pilot without the approval of the case management judge. Instead, informal procedures will be used wherever possible to resolve interlocutory disputes, such as meetings with counsel and self-represented parties in the judge’s chambers or by teleconference. (Exception: motions for recusal would not require the approval of the case management judge.)
  3. At a relatively early stage of the proceeding, the case management judge will fix a trial date, or order a trial to be heard in a particular sitting of the court, and impose a schedule for completing necessary steps prior to trial. The trial date would be adjourned only in exceptional circumstances and would require the approval of the case management judge. For efficiency in the scheduling or conduct of the trial, the case management judge may make pre-trial orders concerning the admissibility of trial evidence.

The expected benefits of one-judge case management are the faster and less costly resolution of civil disputes. The pilot will be evaluated after two years.

How can I get my case included in the pilot?


Inclusion in the pilot is at the discretion of the Regional Senior Judge or his or her designate. The extent to which the pilot is available in the region, including the number of actions admitted into the pilot, will depend on available judicial resources and local scheduling practices.

When determining whether to include a case in the pilot, similar to Rule 77, the Regional Senior Judge or his or her designate will take into consideration a variety of factors, including:

  • The complexity of the issues of fact or law
  • The importance to the public of the issues of fact or law
  • The number and type of parties or prospective parties, and whether they are represented
  • The number of proceedings involving the same or similar parties or causes of action
  • The amount of intervention by the court that the proceeding is likely to require
  • The time required for discovery, if applicable, and for preparation for trial or hearing
  • In the case of an action, the number of expert witnesses and other witnesses
  • The time required for the trial or hearing
  • Whether there has been substantial delay in the conduct of the proceeding.

Parties may apply to participate in the pilot by writing to the Regional Senior Judge or sending a completed application form (linked here in word and PDF below).