By Cal Braid
Westwind Weekly News
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On Nov. 8, the Alberta Ministry of Justice delivered a news release announcing a new and improved process for legal proceedings. By delivering a system called ‘streamlined trials,’ the ministry is creating a method of handling legal matters more quickly and efficiently as an add-on to the traditional trial by judge and trial by jury formats.
In the news release, the ministry promised “a new trial process (that) will save Albertans time and money when pursuing legal action. Court cases can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why Alberta’s government is amending the Alberta Rules of Court regulation to replace a seldom used summary trial process for civil and family matters (…) with a new streamlined trial process.”
The ministry called the streamlining “a simplified process for civil or family cases where the issue can be resolved without lengthier regular or jury trial processes.” The new format will be implemented as a process based primarily on written evidence rather than oral evidence. Both parties will be tasked with a joint responsibility to prepare court materials that identify the issues that are being disputed and are to agree on the relevant material, facts, and records. The process is expected to reduce time spent in the courtroom.
In the release, Mickey Amery, minister of justice and attorney general, was quoted as saying, “Alberta’s government is committed to making the justice system more affordable and accessible. With streamlined trials, Albertans will have an easier and faster experience when resolving civil or family legal disputes.”
The amendment to the Alberta Rules of Court will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. “Once in effect, any parties involved in a civil or family case in the Court of King’s Bench may apply for a streamlined trial, or the court may decide a streamlined trial is the best option. The court may decide to proceed with a streamlined trial based on whether the matter can be resolved fairly, the complexity of the issues, the financial amounts involved and the court resources available,” the ministry stated.
While the system seems a feasible way of clearing up space and time in the courtroom, it also appears to task lawyers and their clients with spending additional time preparing documentation for their respective cases.