Early Resolution in Estate Litigation

By Bethany Schatz, Associate

Estate litigation can often be messy business and sometimes the longer it drags on the messier it becomes. In an attempt to facilitate the early resolution of estate litigation, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has introduced a pilot project that will allow early intervention by the Court and hopefully speed up the litigation process.

Where/when will the pilot project start?

The pilot project was announced in a Notice to the Profession and Public on November 19, 2019. Initially, the project will only be available in the Edmonton and Calgary Judicial Centres. It is set to start in the New Year and will apply to estate matters where a Statement of Claim or Form C1 was filed after December 31, 2019.

What does the pilot project offer?

Below are some of the highlights of the pilot project.

Case Conference

(1) A one-hour case conference before a Justice will be available to parties.
(2) The purpose of the case conference will be to:

  • Clarify the issues between the parties;
  • Explore non-Court imposed resolutions;
  • Identify the appropriate forum to obtain a Court imposed resolution and establish the type of evidence that will be considered; and
  • Consider whether counsel has discharged their duty to discuss with and inform their client of forms of alternative dispute resolution (pursuant to s 4 of the Wills and Succession Act).

Written Request

  • To request a case conference, the parties must submit a written request to the Court Coordinator in Edmonton or Calgary (whichever is applicable).
  • The request can be submitted by one party, but all parties must receive a copy of the request. The request should identify the parties, briefly summarize the issues, and provide mutual available dates for the case conference.

Consent or a Hearing

  • If all parties consent to the case conference, the Court Coordinator will schedule the case conference.
  • If some of the parties do not provide their consent, the Court Coordinator will put the request on the hearing list for Represented Adult Chambers.
  • Parties opposing the request must attend the hearing (in person or by counsel). Parties consenting to the request do not all have to attend, but at least one party consenting must attend (in person or by counsel) and must be authorized by the other consenting parties to make representations on their behalf. Participation by telephone is available for parties residing outside of Edmonton or Calgary
  • The Justice presiding over Represented Adult Chambers will decide if a case conference it merited.
  • Parties are still permitted to take steps in the litigation prior to the hearing in Represented Adult Chambers or a case conference.

If you require assistance, please reach out to a member of our Wills, Estates & Trusts team.

This post is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this post to be outdated.