South Island Legal Drafting Pilot Project

If these two topics pique your interest, you’ll want to hear about a pilot project currently taking place in Victoria, BC.

The South Island Legal Drafting Pilot Project (SILDPP) seeks to match lawyers with mediators to assist parties involved in a family law dispute in moving seamlessly from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated in mediation, to a legally binding Separation Agreement.

Parties to a family law dispute often require a fully executed Separation Agreement for many reasons, including for banks and pension administrators, Family Maintenance Enforcement Programs, the Canada Revenue Agency and others.

How it Works

Through the SILDPP, parties can engage the participating lawyers to access Independent Legal Advice (ILA) and Neutral Drafting Services at a discounted fixed rate[1].

The SILDPP envisions four stages for participating parties:

  1. Parties conclude mediation with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
  2. Each party receives independent legal advice (ILA) from a different participating lawyer.
  3. A third participating lawyer then provides Neutral Drafting services translating the mediated MOU into a Separation Agreement.
  4. Each party returns to their respective ILA lawyer before signing the legally binding Separation Agreement.

The goal of the SILDPP is to increase families’ access to needed high quality legal services and products as they navigate and consider the long-term implications of this important transition in their lives.

Meet the South Island Legal Drafting Pilot Project Team

The SILDPP lawyers will be hosting a Meet and Greet during Conflict Resolution Week 2016. The SILDPP team are looking forward to connecting with those working in the Family Law area interested in learning more about the Pilot over light snacks and refreshments.

If you are unable to make the SILDPP Meet & Greet, connect with them on Facebook.

Currently there are six lawyers and two mediators involved with developing SILDPP and all practice primarily in the area of family law. Introducing:

Craig Vaughan

Craig Vaughan

Duncan & Faber
#302 – 852 Fort St.
Victoria, BC V8W 1H8

Phone: 250-383-8038
Fax: 250-383-3181

Samantha de WitSamantha de Wit

Brown Henderson Melbye
2187 Oak Bay Ave.
Victoria, BC V8R 1G1

Phone: 250-595-2220
Fax: 250-595-4440

Juhi SuklaJuhi Shukla

Stevenson Luchies & Leigh
#300 – 736 Broughton Street
Victoria, BC V8W 1E1

Phone: 250-381-4040
Fax: 250-388-9406

Gavin MatherGavin Mather

Quadra Legal Centre
#101 – 2750 Quadra Street
Victoria, BC V8T 4E8

Phone: 250-380-1566
Fax: 250-380-3090

Samantha RapoportSamantha Rapoport

Brown Henderson Melbye
2187 Oak Bay Ave.
Victoria, BC V8R 1G1

Phone: 250-595-2220
Fax: 250-595-4440

Nicole HamiltonNicole Hamilton

Waddell Raponi
1002 Wharf Street
Victoria, BC V8W 1T4

Phone: 250-385-4311
Fax: 250-385-2012

[1] Note: There is a total time cap to the ILA and Neutral Drafting services offered through this pilot.

Conflict Resolution Week 2016

Settlement Smarts for Self-Represented People

It is a plain language document that provides a practical and easy-to-use guide to settlement.

“Settlement Smarts” for Self-Represented Litigants: How To Use Settlement Processes Knowledgeably and Effectively

Mediators should take a look and consider referring clients to this helpful resource – whether they are represented or not. There is an excellent section on mediation including detailed tips about how to prepare for mediation.

Lawyers should consider how they could use this guide to support their clients.

Thanks so much to Professor Macfarlane for her prolific contribution to improving access to justice in Canada.


Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

Happy 2nd Birthday to the Vancouver Justice Access Centre

That is similar to the situation in which some people find themselves if they are experiencing legal problems. Research has shown that people often struggle with a cluster of problems of different types. They may have a housing problem but that challenge results from debt issues, which are related also to medical or mental health concerns, relationship issues, child protection issues etc. The reality is a complex web of inter-related problems. If this person seeks help for their housing issue, it cannot be addressed without also identifying and seeking assistance for the other inter-related problems. Fortunately, there is help to begin unwinding the mess!

The (VJAC) was officially opened in June 2010 in downtown Vancouver. It offers information and assistance to people with civil and family legal problems. People can call to make an appointment or walk in to seek help. They are seen first by a Justice Interviewer who begins the assessment process to clarify what help the person needs and makes a referral to either a Family Justice Counsellor (for family issues) or a Civil Resource Coordinator (for civil issues), both of whom are on site. For civil matters, the Civil Resource Coordinator listens carefully to understand the story and discern what information and assistance the person might require to untangle what are often very complex webs of problems, like those described above.  Some people refer to this process as “triage”. This takes time and patience and excellent listening skills.

Once the problems are triaged, the Civil Resource Coordinator can make referrals to onsite services such as: Access Pro Bono or Salvation Army for free legal advice clinics; to Credit Counselling Society for debt problems; to Mediate BC Society for disputes that might benefit from mediation; to the Paralegal clinic for help filling in forms and so on, or to other offsite resources. The VJAC has done a great job of assembling a team of agencies who are working together to meet people’s needs – all in one place. Staff and agencies do team problem-solving when necessary.

I recently attended a gathering to celebrate the VJAC’s 2nd anniversary. We heard stories from each of the participating agencies – about their experiences helping people solve their problems. The stories were moving and profound. Like the brother and sister who hadn’t spoken for 8 years and, with encouragement, participated in a mediation to resolve the sale of family property.

Or the senior who came in wanting to sue the care facility where her husband resided. After taking the time to unwind her story it appeared that she had failed to file her tax returns, so the care facility was charging premium rates, she was forced to move into a trailer and couldn’t afford food. The problem she first described was not the conflict that needed to be addressed. She was referred for assistance in filing her tax returns, which led to a reduction in the amount she paid to the care facility and freed up her finances significantly.

Not everyone is able to solve all their problems with this service but they are given a respectful, listening ear and help to create a pathway towards their goals.

The VJAC vision is to be a hub of services to help citizens better navigate the BC justice system.  It is really making a difference in the lives of BC citizens. Happy Birthday VJAC!!  Time for cake!

Photo by Audrey Fretz on Unsplash