While the courts are currently closed due to Covid-19 for all but emergency applications, there is another option to have matters resolved quickly and at generally less cost than using a lawyer for a traditional court hearing. Arbitration allows parties to use a private decision-maker to give a written decision. That decision is binding and enforceable similar to a court order. This process is legislated in Saskatchewan pursuant to The Arbitration Act.
The parties to arbitration can determine the exact format as to how the arbitrator will receive evidence. This means that arbitration can be completed in a manner that does not require any face to face contact, such as with written submissions only, or having a hearing entirely by telephone conference call. While parties are each welcome to involve a lawyer, it is not mandatory to be represented by a lawyer in arbitration.
Almost any type of family law or civil dispute can be resolved using arbitration, and typical family law situations include determining or varying an amount of child or spousal support; deciding on a parenting schedule; resolving health or education decisions about children; and property disputes such as possession of a home or vehicle.
Issues that are unique to the current health and economic crisis can also be resolved by arbitration. For example, parents may be in disagreement over the amount of support payable given recent layoffs or income reductions. Parents may disagree on how to share time with the children given recent social distancing concerns, or disagree on medical treatment for a child. These are all issues that can be decided through arbitration.
David Flett is a lawyer in our office with 25 years of experience in family and civil law. He is a Qualified Arbitrator through the ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) Institute of Canada and a Family Arbitrator recognized by the Province of Saskatchewan. If you would like more information on using arbitration to resolve your issue, please contact David Flett at firstname.lastname@example.org.