Geneva Park: The Modern Civil Justice System Seminar

CHAPTER 7


On October 24th and 25th, 1994, the Civil Justice Review sponsored a workshop entitled: "The Modern Civil Justice System: Weaving the Elements Into the Whole". It was held at the Geneva Park conference Centre north of Toronto, and has become known in Civil Justice Review circles as "The Geneva Conference".

The Geneva Conference was an important event in the deliberations and process of the Review, and thus merits some separate mention. For the first time in the history of the Province, senior representatives of the "three solitudes" -- the Bench, the Bar and Courts Administration -- and members of the Public met together for a concentrated period of time to share perspectives on the civil justice system. There were 82 participants. They learned that they could indeed meet and plan and talk about their visions of the system, in a constructive way.

Topics discussed over the period of two days included:

  • perspectives of a successful court system;
  • caseflow management;
  • perspectives on costs;
  • the role of technology;
  • the experience of case management in the U.S.
  • the division of roles in managing the system;

Included in the 82 participants at the Conference were administrators, academics and judges from the United States, who brought the experience and knowledge already gained by them in many of these aspects of reform to contribute as group leaders, panelists and speakers.

Working groups of participants focused on such themes as management standards, scheduling, dealing with backlog, circuiting, public resource management, case decision-making and ADR, public accountability, and policy formulation and approval.

The Geneva Conference provided a unique opportunity for the participants in the system to share their differing perspectives, to educate each other, to develop areas of consensus for change and, finally, to establish and build the necessary ongoing working relationships which are key to the success of any meaningful changes. The workshop was an important step in the formulation and refinement of the review's ultimate recommendations and demonstrated that there exists a committed will amongst all of the participants to make changes.