Under the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation
The Ministry of Justice (formerly the Ministry of Attorney General) introduced a family mediation pilot project in Nanaimo to help people find early solutions to their family law disputes.
The Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation came into force November 1, 2007, and enables any party to a family proceeding in the Nanaimo registry of the B.C. Supreme Court to require the other parties to attend a single mediation session.
Commencing April 1, 2008, the pilot project was expanded to include two additional Supreme Court registries: Duncan and Victoria. Commencing January 1, 2009, the pilot project was further expanded to include two more Supreme Court registries: Vancouver and New Westminster. As of March 29, 2012, these regulations became applicable provincewide.
When parties to a family law proceeding are unable to agree upon the selection of a mediator under the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation, any party may apply to a "roster organization" designated by the Attorney General for the appointment of a mediator. The Society has been designated as a "roster organization" for this purpose.
*Recent amendments to all of the Notice to Mediate regulations have removed the requirement to file copies of the Notice to Mediate and the Certificate of Completed Mediation forms with the Dispute Resolution Office. The requirement to deliver a copy of the forms to the Dispute Resolution Office was removed from the legislation as of February 28, 2013 for all but the Notice to Mediate (Family); the latter was removed as of March 18, 2013 as part of the new Family Law Act package.
Following are some questions and answers about the Society's role under the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation, including how to request the Society to appoint a mediator:
1) Which organizations are designated "roster organizations" under the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation? Where can a list of these "roster organizations" be obtained?
The Mediate BC Society is the only organization which has been designated as a "roster organization" for the purpose of the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation. Accordingly, there is no list of "roster organizations".
2) What is the procedure for requesting the appointment of a mediator under this regulation?
The procedure is the same as that for the other regulations:
a) If the parties have been unable to agree on a mediator within the applicable time after delivery of a Notice to Mediate, a request for appointment may be made by any party to the proceeding. It should be submitted in writing to the Mediate BC Society, Attention: Mediator Roster Office, 177 - 800 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C5.
b) To accelerate the process, it is advisable to forward the request by fax. The Mediator Roster Office's fax number is: 604-681-6080.
c) The written request should include the following information:
- It should indicate that the parties have been unable to select a mediator within the time required by the regulation.
- It should identify the section of the regulation under which the request is being made [i.e., section 7 of the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation].
- It should list the names and contact information of counsel involved in the action, as well as the names of the parties which they represent. Also, indicate contact information for unrepresented parties.
- It should indicate the date of the trial or indicate that a trial date has not been scheduled.
- It should indicate the date of filing of the first response.
d) A copy of the Notice to Mediate which was delivered to the parties must be attached to the request. Please ensure that the Notice to Mediate has been filed on the correct regulation using the correct form:
3) What happens after the request is made for the appointment of a mediator?
When asked to appoint a mediator, the Society follows the appointment procedure which is outlined in the regulation:
a) The Society, within 7 days after receiving the request, provides to all parties an identical list of possible mediators. The list contains at least 6 names.
b) Within 7 days after receipt of this list, each party:
- may delete up to 2 names from the list,
- must number the remaining names on the list in order of preference, and must return the amended list to the Society.
c) If a party does not return the amended list within 7 days of receiving it, the party is deemed to have accepted all of the names on the list.
d) Within 7 days after the expiry of the time referred to in paragraph (b), the Society selects the mediator from the remaining names on the list. If no names remain on the list, the Society selects from any of its available mediators, whether or not they were included on the original list.
4) How does the Society select the list of mediators provided to the parties?
In making the selection the Society takes into account the following factors:
- the need for the mediator to be neutral and independent,
- the qualifications of the mediator,
- the mediator's fees,
- the mediator's availability,
- the geographic location of the parties and mediator, and
- any other consideration likely to result in the selection of an impartial, competent and effective mediator.
5) How does the Society select the mediator?
In making the selection the Society takes into account the order of preference indicated by the parties on the returned lists of mediators, as well as the factors considered outlined above, including location and availability.
6) How long does it take for a mediator to be appointed?
The length of time for the appointment process is dependent on the time frames provided in the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation. The maximum length of time for the process is 21 days.
In practical terms, the length of time for the appointment process may be reduced by various factors - for example, when all parties deliver their amended list of names to the Society before the expiry of the time required by the regulation.
7) Is it possible to withdraw a request if the participants come to an agreement on a mediator while they are waiting for one to be appointed?
In order to withdraw a request for the appointment of a mediator, the parties need only advise the Society in writing that they have mutually agreed on a mediator and that they do not require the Society to appoint one for them. This letter should be forwarded to the Society office as soon as the parties have made such an agreement between themselves.
8) Does the Mediate BC Society charge a fee for appointing a mediator?
The Society does not charge a fee for this, or for any of the other services that it offers.
9) After the mediator is appointed, does the "roster organization" have a further role?
The regulation does not provide for any further involvement by the "roster organization". While the Mediate BC Society is available to answer questions and provide whatever assistance it can after the appointment, it does not have a formal role. The Society collects information on the availability of the participants and mediators on the list provided and distributes this information to all of the parties; however, the Society is not involved in formally scheduling the mediation session.