What is a Judicial Case Conference?
By Millad Ossudallah, BC Family Lawyer
If you have a family law action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, you will need to attend a mandatory Judicial Case Conference (JCC). A JCC will allow the parties and their legal counsel, if any are present, to discuss the present issues on a without prejudice basis.
In terms of scheduling a JCC, upon a Notice of Family Claim being filed and served, and a Response to Family Claim and Counterclaim being filed and served, the parties can then schedule a JCC through the Supreme Court registry by filing a Notice of Judicial Case Conference.
What is a JCC and how does it work? Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- A JCC is an informal meeting between all parties in a family law matter with a presiding Judge or Master. Recently, a practice directive has been released advising that all JCC’s must occur in person. However, you can file a Requisition and request for parties to appear to the JCC remotely, through online meeting tools or phone conference. This Requisition needs to be filed well in advance of the scheduled JCC.
- The JCC affords the parties the opportunity to discuss the outstanding issues and the possibility of settlement.
- It is prudent to draft a without prejudice JCC brief which outlines any settlements or proposals. This can be provided to the opposing party and the Judge or Master. It will assist in outlining the facts, issues, and proposed terms for resolution. Oftentimes, the parties may be able to reach a settlement at the JCC on all or some of the present issues.
- F8 Financial Statements need to be filed and served onto all parties at least seven (7) days before the JCC. If a party has been refusing to produce a F8 Financial Statement, securing a JCC date will compel that party to comply. F8 Financial Statements will assist in determining the incomes of the parties, bank accounts, properties, pensions, etc. For example, a spouse may not be aware of the present assets or income of the opposing party and an F8 Financial Statement will assist with any likely uncertainties.
- The presiding Judge or Master cannot make substantive orders unless those orders are consented to by all parties. The presiding Judge or Master can and will make procedural orders, such as ordering F8 Financial Statements, List of Documents, the booking of trial dates or examination for discoveries, or addressing disclosure requests.
- A JCC is a mandatory step in any family law matter at the Supreme Court of British Columbia , however, certain exceptions are in place to bypass this step if there is an urgent matter to be addressed, such as non-removal, freezing orders, protection orders, etc.
Upon the conclusion of a JCC, a party can either request a Court Summary Sheet or a JCC Case Management Plan which can be used to draft the proposed orders. Generally, one of the proposed terms is ‘being released from the JCC program,’ and upon this release, either party is at liberty to bring a court application. For example, if a party’s income was in dispute and the parties were not able to agree to that person’s income by consent, then a Notice of Application and supporting affidavit can be filed and served to seek the courts’ assistance.
Still have questions regarding Judicial Case Conferences? Speak with a Crossroads family lawyer to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken and that this process is used effectively in avoiding any unnecessary court applications. Book your free 20-minute consultation today.