In the fall of 2018, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta introduced a new program called the Early Intervention Case Conference (“EICC”).
The EICC is a program aimed at diverting potentially high conflict family matters, especially those involving children, into an early resolution program. The program consists of attending at a one-hour session with a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. The session is essentially mediation, but it his highly directive meaning that it takes place in a Courtroom and the Judge sits on the dais, or raised platform, and directs the parties as to how their matter might be resolved. The session is private as the Courtroom is closed to the public and neither party is permitted to order a transcript of the proceedings.
When we first heard about this program, we were told that the early results were an over 80% success rate of settling matters in dispute. We were very surprised to hear this program would be so effective, but we have now had the opportunity to attend several EICCs and can say that we are big fans of this program! The program is very successful in forcing the parties to narrow the particular issues in dispute and come to sensible resolutions prior to engaging in highly stressful and expensive lengthy litigation. It is now our practice to evaluate all files within our office and new clients who come through the door for suitability for an EICC. Where we believe that the EICC might be effective at resolving the dispute, we immediately try to get agreement to schedule an EICC and where there is no agreement we often recommend asking the Court to order the parties to attend at an EICC.
Only time will tell if this program continues with its amazing success rate, but we have every reason to be optimistic.