Attending at a Settlement Conference
The small claims court rules require that at least 14 days prior to a settlement conference, all parties must provide to the other side and to the court any and all documents that are available that relate to the matter that is before the court. This is called disclosure. Additionally, a ‘List of Proposed Witnesses’ (“LPW”) is also to be served on the other side 14 days prior to the settlement conference. The rules provide that costs can be awarded against a party who has not served the disclosure and the LPW on all the parties and filed it with the court, the offending party may face a penalty of having to pay an amount of money - called costs - to the other side.
If you as a party to the action do not attend at a settlement conference, the penalty can range from an award of costs against you to having your claim or defence struck out. This would be disastrous to your case whether you are a Plaintiff or a Defendant.
As I had written in an earlier article, you will always want to go into a settlement conference well prepared and ready to advance your side of the dispute. At a settlement conference, a judge has the authority and mandate to make orders as follows:
- adding or deleting a party
- consolidating actions
- staying or dismissing an action
- amending or striking out a claim or defence
- directing the production of documents
- changing the place of trial
- directing an additional settlement conference
- ordering costs
- at an additional settlement conference, order judgment, and
- any other order relating to the conduct of the action that the court could make.
The takeaway from this is that one must never attend at a settlement conference unprepared and thinking that a settlement conference is an unimportant component of the small claims court proceedings. In fact, a properly prepared for settlement conference can be a powerful and effective tool toward convincing the court to see things your way, which can have a psychological negative affect on the other side.
To talk to a paralegal with experience in settlement conferences call today at (416) 399-4826.