Friday, June 17, 2011

Chief Justice Warren Winkler at Family Law Summit

Ontario Court of Appeal Chief Justice Warren Winkler has just completed a impassioned speech at the 5th Annual Family Law Summit at Toronto.

Continuing his call for reform to Ontario's family law system, and underlining his postion that the entire system is broken and needs restructuring from the ground up, Mr. Justice Winkler emphasized the need for change now.

Here are Justice Winkler's key, quoteworthy points (reproduced, in part from our live-tweets):
  • The Family law system in Ontario needs reform now. He intended his September 2010 comments as a lightning rod for change to the whole system. He observes that much dialogue has resulted.
  • Trend in Family Law: The well-to-do are opting out of the system and choosing private mediation/arbitration; Others going self-rep (up to 70% in Toronto)
  • Asks if we are trending toward a two-tiered system? Notes Canadians don't like two-tiered systems.
  • Family law system needs affordability, timing, efficiency.
  • He proposes "presumptive judicial mediation" as cornerstone of new system..
  • Justice Winkler's proposal: Triage Judge to handle cases that can't or shouldn't be mediated. The Triage judge will send an immediate message: It "won't be pleasant" for those acting badly
  • Access to justice is a double-edged sword - it can also be used by one party to harass the other. The family justice system should not be permitted to be used to perpetrate wrongful conduct by either party. We must "take the system out of play"
  • Under his proposed new system, every court attendance must be meaningful. Must eliminate wasteful court appearances.
  • Need system of "one family, one judge"
  • Goals of new family law system - Must be cheap, simple, understandable and affordable
  • We have "studied" Unified Family Court far too long. Need UFC's across the Province now.
  • He is committed to getting this change done now, and asks family law bar to help make it happen.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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