Judicial Mediation Program
This program helps litigants avoid costly and time-consuming courtroom hearings. It is voluntary and is available to those who have launched an appeal in a civil or family dispute (not available in criminal appeals).
The idea is to give litigants the opportunity to resolve their differences themselves under the guidance of a Judge.
Litigants who cannot afford a lawyer, or who are representing themselves, have access to the services of a lawyer free of charge. The Canadian Bar Association’s Nova Scotia Branch keeps a list of lawyers who have volunteered to provide their services, pro bono (free of charge), for this program.
Mediation has been successful in other Nova Scotia Courts as well as in Courts across Canada. Like the Court of Appeal’s new program, the others are all based on the premise that the feuding parties know their situation and their needs better than the lawyers and the presiding Judges.
The Canadian Courts operate on what is known as the adversarial system. That is to say, each side in a dispute presents its case and argues against the other side’s case. The Judge then decides how the dispute will be resolved and imposes a solution authorized by law through a Court Order.
It is often a costly and time-consuming process that can also exact an emotional toll. Including appeals to higher Courts, disputes can go on for years. And, in the end, there exists the possibility that neither party may be completely happy with the resolution.
On the other hand, mediation offers the parties an opportunity to come up with their own solutions with guidance from the lawyers and a Judge. Experience shows that they usually settle on a solution that can bring more satisfaction to the parties in less time and at lower financial and emotional cost.
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For more information about the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal mediation program and a list of lawyers offering pro bono serevice, go to the Canadian Bar Association- Nova Scotia Branch website http://www.cba.org/ns/home