The Ministry of Justice is committed to a justice and conflict resolution environment which includes a wide range of dispute resolution options. These options include:
- Established adjudicative methods of dispute resolution such as litigation and arbitration
- Collaborative methods of dispute resolution such as conciliation, facilitation, negotiation, mediation and other consensus based processes
- Methods based on traditional practices or tailored to the cultural diversity of the population
- Conflict management systems and any organizational or administrative method of minimizing or preventing Conflict or encouraging efficient resolution of conflict
The justice and conflict resolution environment envisioned by the Ministry of Justice is based on the following principles:
- Access: that appropriate options for preventing conflicts and resolving them at every stage of a dispute be available and easily accessible.
- Community Participation: that conflict resolution resources exist within various communities and that these communities, in appropriate circumstances, assume an active role in resolving disputes.
- Individual Satisfaction: that dispute resolution options maximize individual involvement and satisfaction with the process.
- Equality: that dispute resolution processes be structured to balance power inequities between the parties.
- Quality of Resolutions: that settlements be fair and equitable and that the parties honour them.
- Efficiency: that dispute resolution options:
- Be well-matched to the dispute
- Be cost-effective
- Minimize delay in reaching resolution
- That the public be aware of alternative dispute resolution options;
- That individuals understand how co-operative approaches to dispute resolution work.
A justice and conflict resolution environment in which a range of dispute resolution options is widely available can be achieved. The ministry’s alternative dispute resolution policy encourages the development of dispute resolution options by incorporating current initiatives and by supporting new directions in alternative dispute resolution. Therefore the Ministry of Justice intends to:
- Apply a continuum of dispute resolution options to resolve disputes in cases where Ministry counsel act for the Government of British Columbia, or for a client Ministry.
- Incorporate alternative dispute resolution options into contracts prepared for the Ministry of Justice and encourage the use of such options in contracts drafted for client Ministries.
- Incorporate uniform alternative dispute resolution options and mechanisms in legislation.
- Establish additional disclosure courts, where conditions warrant.
- Support the establishment of victim-offender reconciliation programs throughout the Province, where conditions warrant.
- Increase adult and youth diversion throughout the Province.
- Develop a Ministry organizational structure capable of co-ordinating:
- Consultation with non-governmental dispute resolution agencies, stakeholders, and the community
- Participation in inter-ministry and intergovernmental alternative dispute resolution initiatives
- Program development and funding in consultation with the community
- Research, analysis and evaluation of alternative dispute resolution issues to inform and prioritize ministry policy, program initiatives and decisions
- The development of a reporting system which catalogues and reviews alternative dispute resolution processes in government
- The implementation of organizational and administrative structures within the Ministry for the purposes of minimizing or resolving conflict
- Consult with the Judiciary and the Bar to utilize the existing Rules of Court and to effect changes to the Rules of Court which may incorporate alternative dispute resolution options.
- Support the use of dispute resolution alternatives to litigation in:
- Family matters, such as custody, access, maintenance and division of property
- Motor vehicle personal injury claims
- Other civil matters
- Recognize and support community-based dispute resolution practices by aboriginal peoples.
- Support educational processes designed to increase the awareness of alternative dispute resolution options and the circumstances in which they are appropriate for the government, the legal profession, and the public.
- Further develop the ADR policy to broaden and encourage the application of dispute resolution options through:
- Continuing consultation with dispute resolution stakeholders and advocates
- Promoting the use of alternative dispute resolution options among all ministries and agencies of government
- Promoting the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques in neighbourhood or community disputes
- Identifying and removing barriers to the understanding and use of alternative dispute resolution options
- Supporting multi-party alternative dispute resolution processes such as land use planning, aboriginal treaty
Definitions of some of the terms contained in this policy are in this glossary.