PILOT PROJECTBy Richard Gendron
Me Richard Gendron, lawyer, mediator, arbitrator (civil and commercial)
Courts are frequently presented with contradictory reports from experts, and this may increase expenses and delays associated with legal proceedings.
To alleviate these problems and facilitate access to the judicial system, the Barreau du Québec, the Barreau de Laval, the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec just implemented an agreement to test the effectiveness of using a single expert report.
This project begins on January 12, 2009 and will be in effect until January 15, 2010, with no retroactive, unless the parties agree otherwise.
The parties must negotiate an agreement concerning the conduct of proceedings. The project stipulates that each party must indicate the areas of expertise for which they wish to retain the services of an expert, as well as the mandate, the information and the documents that must be given to the expert.
The agreement must also stipulate whether the parties have agreed upon a choice of a single expert. If not, the parties must suggest three names of experts in the selected area of expertise. As required, the Court will either confirm the expert selected by the parties, or the expert will be designated by the Court after hearing submissions from the parties.
The agreement also stipulates that the single expert report must be paid for in advance and that the costs will be divided equally among all parties unless otherwise determined by the Court.
Once the mandate is completed, the single expert transmits a written report of his findings and conclusions to all the attorneys and solicitors or to the parties.
A party that is not satisfied with the report from the single expert may apply to the designated judge for permission to produce an additional expert report at his own expense with the permission of the Court.
When the proceedings are concluded, the court may order the losing party to reimburse the portion of the fees for the single expert report paid by the other party.
To assess the pertinence and effectiveness of this pilot project, a follow-up committee has been given the mandate to evaluate the project using pre-determined indicators. The members of the committee are: a judge from the Superior Court, a judge from the Court of Quebec, a representative from the Barreau du Québec and two representatives from the Barreau du Laval.
The objective is that this pilot project will promote shorter delays and ensure better access to justice and reduced costs for litigants.