If you’re involved in a family case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, it’s likely you will encounter a term known as a Judicial Case Conference before too long. A JCC is a normal part of the family law process in British Columbia, and we’re going to discuss the best ways to prepare in this blog.
What is a Judicial Case Conference?
A Judicial Case Conference (or JCC) is the standard prelude to a family law case in BC. It consists of a private, informal meeting attended by a judge (or master of the Court), the parties to the proceeding, and their lawyers (if they are represented). A JCC is valuable for offering an early opportunity for both parties, with the assistance of the judge/master to discuss ways in which issues can be resolved without resorting to further litigation or a trial. If a consensus can’t be reached, the JCC is used to plan out the timeframe for litigation, delivering a decision in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Where is a JCC Held?
A JCC is more informal in nature than a trial. This means it can be held in a courtroom or a conference room. The present parties are not expected to stand to address the judge/master. Proceedings will likely last for an hour and will be scheduled at a specific time, well in advance. Unless it is clearly specified, each of the parties MUST attend a JCC. If given dispensation not to attend, the party involved must still be available for consultation during the JCC, either in person or over the phone.
Preparing for a JCC
While it’s more informal than a trial, it still pays to prepare for a JCC. Here are some of the ways you can ensure you have the best chance of a positive agreement for all parties:
Get Your Finances Ready
Parties to a JCC are obliged to file and serve financial statements at least seven days in advance. It’s vital to provide this information so the judge/master can understand any property/asset or debt division issues ahead of the proceeding.
A JCC is not the forum for airing dirty laundry. Both parties will benefit by offering solutions to shared problems instead of accusations of wrongdoing. It’s recommended to meet with a family law expert in advance of a JCC so they can fully comprehend the situation and provide legal advice on the best way to proceed. A lawyer can also assist in preparing a Judicial Case Conference Brief…
Prepare a JCC Brief
Judges/Masters love when parties to a JCC prepare a Brief. This document can be thought of as cliff notes for the case, providing pertinent background information, issues relating to the case, issues at dispute and proposed solutions. Laying the details out in advance helps to clarify potential sticking points for the judge/master, leading to a more efficient proceeding.
Understand the Rules
JCC proceedings are subject to two very important rules.
- Both parties must be respectful toward each other and not interrupt. The Case Conference is a vital opportunity for all parties to hear from and ask questions of the other side.
- All conversations that take place during a JCC are private and confidential. In later potential trials neither party may mention anything said in the JCC to the trial judge. Sometimes this freedom can help the two parties reach a settlement.
Find Out More
Interested in discussing how to prepare for a JCC? Our expert team is standing by to assist. Contact us and we’ll be happy to help!