Mar 302015

Alberta LegislatureHere at LESA we’re proud to be your lifelong partner in continuing legal excellence. As your partner, we want to help you keep on top of all the latest legislative changes.

That desire leads us to today’s inaugural “Latest from the Leg” blog. We’ll be posting similar blogs periodically to update you on provincial or national legislative changes that will impact the practice of law in Alberta.

We hope you find these updates useful!

New Estate Administration Act

The Estate Administration Act (EAA) and the new Surrogate Rules will come into force on June 1, 2015 (by Order in Council 84/2015 and Order in Council 85/2015, both approved on March 19).

The EAA repeals the Administration of Estates Act RSA 2000 cA-2 and the Devolution of Real Property Act RSA 2000 cD-12. It has been developed to make the roles and obligations of personal representatives (executors) easier to find and understand. Among other things, the new legislation and the corresponding changes to the Surrogate forms add more information-sharing rules: those administering estates not requiring a grant must serve notice to beneficiaries or others including their contact information, the date of the will, and the date of death.

Additional Court Fees

You can expect to see additional court fees in place soon.

  • Higher prices for court filing fees are effective May 1, 2015 (under OC 112/2015), and in the Provincial Court fees will be added for filing a dispute note, third party claims, and applications within an action.
  • Court fees under the Surrogate Rules (AR 130/1995) are also going up for grants of probate, letters of administration, or resealing under Schedule 2 – from an extra $10 for an estate valued at $10K or less to an extra $125 for an estate valued at over $250K.
  • Under the Rules of Court (AR 124/2010) Schedule B, it will cost $250 (up from $200) to file a statement of claim/originating application and $50 (up from no charge) to file an action under the Family Law Act. Instead of being included in the price of the action, there will be a separate fee for filing a statement of defense ($50), a counterclaim ($150), a third party claim ($150), and an application ($50).

If you practice in the area of wills & estates, LESA has seminars to help both lawyers and legal support staff learn more about the new Act. Learn more or register online now to secure your seat – some seminar sessions are already full!

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

Learn How to Use Summary Judgments Effectively

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Rules of Court, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Learn How to Use Summary Judgments Effectively
Mar 182015

Register online for Summary Judgment Applications!

UPDATE: This seminar occurred in the past. View the list of upcoming seminars to discover live programs that are available now.

Are you a civil litigator? Have you ever made use of the summary judgment application process? Do you know how this process has changed over the past year, since the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin?

LESA has an upcoming Summary Judgment Applications seminar in Edmonton and Calgary to help answer your questions about this process.

Seminar chair Ken Blake describes Rule 7.3 as giving teeth to the summary judgment application process.

 It’s nice to see that a rule that was created for the benefit of the public is now being used more by their counsel. It’s not a slam dunk, but … the teeth are back in this rule. At one point it was toothless, and now it’s had some implants and can leave a mark. And that’s effective for all counsel. It doesn’t matter what form of civil litigation you’re involved in, it’s a great tool.

As Blake describes it, the old summary judgment application process “rarely, rarely worked” because “deference was always shown to people who were saying, ‘Well, there are still some outstanding issues’ or ‘We’re going to be proving that at a later date.’” This led to a reality where summary judgment applications offered more of a “forlorn hope” than a real opportunity for claims to be dismissed or to receive a judgment.

For Blake, the revived summary judgment application process offers clients two main benefits.

The change that came from the Supreme Court of Canada [in regards to] this theme or mode or different way of looking at something has made summary judgment more of a viable option for people. From what I understand, since that decision, summary judgments have almost been the flavor of the month. People are proceeding with them all over the place, because there are instances now where they can actually proceed and get a determination from a Master or a Justice on these issues without having to have the matter drag along when there’s really no need for it. There are two reasons that you can see throughout the whole theme of all these cases. 1) This is a rule that should be used. It was created for counsel and for the public … because you need access to justice. Sitting around and waiting for other people to do something or waiting for a trial date or anything to move the matter forward still delays and denies access, in my opinion, to your client. The new theory and the new mode of thinking with summary judgments, where the Master can now proceed and make these decisions, … helps out counsel with respect to a lot of items that they can now proceed on a summary fashion. 2) The other thing is cost. One of the reasons why people are not going to trial a lot, at least in the area that I practice in (that is insurance), is cost. Even when dealing with a matter that perhaps doesn’t have a great deal of legitimacy to it, prior to the Supreme Court decision, you could proceed with a summary judgment, but, as long as there was some hope or some oral argument given to a Master that things can be proven and things will come out and whatever, the claim would not be dismissed, because no one wanted to deny someone’s claim and that’s it. But costs for trial have increased a great deal, and this now allows people better opportunity to get their matter before court and save both themselves and, theoretically, the other party cost.

If you’re a civil litigator thinking about attending the upcoming Summary Judgment Applications seminar, here are 3 things you can expect to gain from this seminar:

  1. A better understanding of Rule 7.3 – As Blake explains, “We intend to present the essence of the rule, to break it down. What do you do? What do you need to do? What do you do in cases of self-representation? … I’m sure many … [litigators] who have never even thought of using the Rule would like to do so now, so we’re going to go over the essence of that rule.
  2. Greater knowledge about winning cases – For Blake, it’s important to see “how the court is looking at some of the cases that are coming before it and what facts and what criteria seem to be winning applications and what are not. You still can’t necessarily bring a summary application on a preliminary basis if it’s completely premature. You’re not going to get anywhere. Understanding when is a good time to bring a summary judgment application is probably just as beneficial as understanding how the courts are determining when a judgment should be granted or when a claim should be dismissed.
  3. The chance to talk to the experts – The panel includes Hon. Justice T. W. Wakeling, Master Schlosser QC, and Kunal Nand. Blake describes Master Schlosser as a “very keen, keen student of jurisprudence … [with] insights on this [that will be] tremendous to the bar” and notes that Nand, who will be providing an instructive paper and presentation, “was one of the first to start writing about how the Alberta court has been looking at summary judgments after the Supreme Court’s decision in Hryniak.” Blake is also looking forward to Justice Wakeling’s “unique insights on Summary Judgment Applications as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.” There will also be opportunity for the audience to ask questions. As Blake notes, “I would really like people to engage the panel with questions, because I think summary judgments now give people a great option to help their clients, and if you can take away something good that will add to your practice, then that’s great.

We hope you’ll be able to join this knowledgeable panel when they delve into the details of summary judgment applications. You can register online now for the session in Edmonton (April 28) or Calgary May 5).

Case Management Counsel in the Court of Queen’s Bench

 Legal News: Alberta, Legislative Update, News, Rules of Court  Comments Off on Case Management Counsel in the Court of Queen’s Bench
Mar 132015

The role of case management counsel at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta was recently legislatively recognized at ss 16.1 and 16.2 of the Court of Queen’s Bench Act.

First rolled out as a pilot project in 2011, the position of case management counsel has now become a permanent fixture at the court house. There are currently two counsel in Edmonton (Brenda Kaminski QC and Michelle Pidhirney) and two in Calgary (Catherine Christopher QC and Susan Borsic-Drummond).

A Notice to the Profession (NP #2011-03) outlines the authority and duties of these counsel, which includes narrowing or resolving issues, assisting with scheduling, and vetting applications to be made by the parties. They are also empowered to conduct references under Rule 6.45 of the Alberta Rules of Court. The mandate of case management counsel applies only to case-managed files and is only available to cases formally assigned into case management. Currently, counsel in Edmonton gets involved with all types of civil cases, regardless of whether the parties are self-represented or have counsel; in Calgary, they take only high conflict family cases with at least one self-represented litigant.

A case is referred to case management counsel in one of two ways:

  1. By the Chief Justice (in Calgary) or Associate Chief Justice (in Edmonton), on the case being assigned into case management, but before going before a case management judge.
  1. By the assigned case management judge, once the case is already in case management.

According to Michelle Pidhirney, “The role of case management counsel has become an important element of the case management process.  We complement the work of the judiciary in a way that makes efficient use of judicial resources and is of value to parties and to counsel. We assist with ensuring the effective administration of case managed actions to improve access to justice for all litigants, particularly those who are self-represented.”

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

Proposed Schedule C Amendments – Increased costs awards?

 Legal News: Alberta, News, Rules of Court  Comments Off on Proposed Schedule C Amendments – Increased costs awards?
Mar 112015


Did you know that the Rules of Court Committee proposes increasing party and party costs by 35%?

Today’s blog offers a short summary of the important details, and the committee’s full report can be found here.

On January 12, 2015 the Rules of Court Committee released its views on the scale of costs in Schedule C of the Rules of Court. Schedule C governs the amounts a successful litigant can presumptively be awarded from an unsuccessful litigant. These are commonly called party and party costs, and they are not meant to provide full indemnification (or solicitor-client costs) to a winner.

Schedule C was last adjusted in 1998 – 12 years before the current Rules came into effect. According to the Committee’s report, “there was a broad consensus that the Schedule needs to be updated to reflect inflation.”

According to the Committee’s report, and based on the opinions gathered by it:

  • The basic structure of Schedule C will stay the same. That is, it will continue to be divided into columns, based on the amount at stake in the litigation.
  • Schedule C will continue to apply to all types of litigation, no matter the area of law or the complexity of the case.
  • The objective of Schedule C will continue to be to provide some, but not all, cost recovery to a successful litigant.
  • The revised Schedule C will not include costs for dispute resolution processes, notwithstanding a call for that change by some commentators.

The Committee recommends that the new Schedule apply to all costs entitlements effective July 1, 2015.

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

New Alberta Rules of Court – it’s not too late!

 LESA Update, Online Course, Rules of Court  Comments Off on New Alberta Rules of Court – it’s not too late!
Dec 162010

Did you miss the live sessions? All eight (8) of our New Alberta Rules of Court courses are available as online self-study modules. These include:

Understanding the Litigation Process
Bringing an Action
Post-Commencement Pleadings
Framework for Managing Dispute Resolution
Resolving Pre-trial issues and Preserving Rights
Judgments, Orders, and Costs

Also available:
New Alberta Rules of Court: Family Law Rules

Bonus: If you are a Transition Package holder, you automatically gain access to all of the Rules of Court online self-study modules AS WELL AS the New Alberta Rules of Court: Family Law Rules course.

For more details visit our Rules of Court blog or contact Carolyn at to register.

New Rules of Court and Forms Grace Period

 Legal News: Alberta, Rules of Court  Comments Off on New Rules of Court and Forms Grace Period
Nov 292010

The new Alberta Rules of Court, which come into effect on November 1, 2010, have prescribed a number of forms and introduced many procedural changes for the Court of Queen’s Bench. It is the responsibility of litigants or their counsel to ensure that, starting on November 1, 2010, they are fully complying with the new Rules of Court. Continue reading »