However you look at it, Ontario’s Binding Judicial Dispute Resolution pilot project (Binding JDR) announced in the May 10th Practice Advisory from Chief Justice Morawetz, is a big step. A really big step.
When Julius Caesar took his troops across the Rubicon contrary to orders from the Senate in 49 BC, he did so knowing he was passing a point of no return. It was a commitment that once made could not be undone. He knew what he was doing and intended the consequences. It’s tough to read the Binding JDR Practice Advisory without thinking that this too is a big step with big consequences that once made can’t be undone.
If comparing the introduction of Binding JDR to Caesar and the Rubicon sounds too dramatic, what about comparing its introduction to the more subtle impact of the camel’s nose? You know the saying: If you allow the camel to put his/her/it’s nose into your tent out of compassion because it’s a cold night, the next thing you know the whole camel is inside. Doing one small, apparently innocent, thing can lead to large, perhaps unintended, consequences. Or how about using the Pandora’s Box analogy?
No matter what analogy you use, Binding JDR is no small step Thinking that this is only a pilot project for a limited subset of people, in only a few locales away from the major population centres, and created below the awareness of most family law lawyers prevents us from seeing the potential implications. They’re far reaching and significant. And once the concept takes hold, as it has wherever this sort of court has been introduced, it will change the way we think about our entire Family Justice System. Congratulations to the Chief Justice and his crew of judges for doing what we, the family law bar, should have done ourselves. Shame on us for leaving it to them.