Under the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure 21.1, civil litigation trials in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor are subject to the Mandatory Mediation Program. Under this program, actions that are subject to case management must be mediated by a private sector mediator whose goal is to assist the parties to find a mutually satisfactory resolution.
The parties to a trial have 30 days after the first defence is filed to agree on a mediator. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Local Mediation Coordinator will appoint a mediator. The mediation itself must take place within 90 days from the filing of the first defence unless the court rules otherwise or both parties consent to postpone the mediation for an additional 60 days.
Seven days before the mediation, the mediator must receive a Statement of Issues from all parties. All parties, including their lawyers, must attend the mediation. Moreover, these parties must either have the authority to settle the case or have ready telephone access to anyone whose approval is needed to settle. The parties are only obligated to attend for a total of three hours. However, if the parties reach an agreement or the mediator believes that the process is not constructive, the process may end early.
None of the information arising from the mediation can be used outside of the mediation for any court purpose. This rule encourages each side to present the facts in their case in an open manner.