Yukon court cases should move along more briskly with new rules coming into force on Monday, says a Supreme Court of the Yukon judge.
Justice Ronald Veale said he knows of court cases, involving offences such as motor vehicle accidents that have dragged through the courts for six to eight years.
“That shouldn’t happen,” he said. “And it’s less likely to happen under the new rules.”
Judges will be able to set trial dates earlier, using a tool called case management.
And, Veale said, “there’s nothing like a trial date to get a lawyer moving.”
Case management will also allow judges to push along cases bogged down by disputes between lawyers much earlier.
“We can give some guidance and directions to get (the case) moving,” Veale said.
Other changes should make the court more “Yukon friendly,” said Veale.
For example, the ancient writ of summons, often difficult to explain to those unfamiliar with the courts, has been replaced with the more simple statement of claim.
Debbie Hoffman, who has practised family law in Whitehorse for 14 years, said several rule changes should make life easier for her clients.
At times, a family law case will proceed to trial, against both sides’ wishes, simply because of conflicting affidavits, she said.
That should no longer happen under the new rules, she said.
The new rules should also make foot-dragging more difficult in civil court, said Grant Macdonald, who has worked in civil law for 25 years.
“The new rules will make it a lot more easy for us who want to push forward to push forward,” he said.
Until now, the Yukon has relied on the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s rules.
The territory now joins all other jurisdictions in the country, other than Nunavut, in adopting its own court rules.