Early Intervention Case Conferences (EICC): What is it and how do I prepare?
By Amanda Marsden
As the Courts continue dealing with an ever-present backlog of family law matters, judges look for ways to divert certain issues out of the traditional litigation process. One of the tools that judges appear to be favouring is the use of Early Intervention Case Conferences (“EICC”). The goal of an EICC is to explore the possibility of settlement in a mediation-like setting. The major difference between a traditional mediation and an EICC is who the mediator is- in the case of an EICC, the mediator is a Justice from the Court of Queen’s Bench.
At the time of booking an EICC the parties must determine what issues are to be discussed. Issues can include: child support, spousal support, parenting and property. Prior to attending the EICC, each party is required to complete a EICC summary, which outlines their respective positions and includes an offer to settle the issues in dispute. These summaries help direct the Justice in their efforts to facilitate settlement discussions. You are not required to present formal evidence before an EICC. Typically, affidavits are not filed prior to attendance, and even in cases where evidence has been filed with the court, it may not be reviewed in detail by the presiding Justice. The EICC process focuses on reaching a resolution that both parties can live with, as opposed to testing evidence and determining which party is in the right.
Even in cases where the entire dispute cannot be resolved, an EICC can help parties reach an agreement on ancillary issues or an agreement on the required process to move the dispute forward and reach an eventual resolution. An EICC is conducted on a without prejudice basis, meaning that solutions discussed or offers made during and EICC cannot be used in future court proceedings. If the parties are not able to come to any agreements during an EICC, both can leave the process without fear that an order will be made absent an agreement.
Self-represented litigants can attend an EICC without counsel. However, they may wish to seek legal advice prior to preparing their EICC summary and attending the EICC. EICCs are not available to parties in situations involving domestic violence. In matters where domestic violence has occurred, there may be other alternate dispute resolution options available. Contact the lawyers at Crossroads Law for help preparing for an EICC or to discuss alternate dispute resolution processes.