by Retired Justice, Cliff Nelson as part of “Cliff’s Notes” a feature in FDRIO’s newsletter

In a recent case, Adams v. Adams 2019 ONSC 1431, which pitted a wife against her husband and in-laws over how much money, if any, was owing to her from equity in the in-laws’ house, Master Ronna Brott had to decide whether to compel all the parties to attend mediation.

With respect to the property, the wife relied upon a formula in a written agreement, while the defendants denied the existence of the agreement, refusing to pay anything to the wife. The wife initiated both a civil law and a family law proceeding against the husband and in-laws. In the face of unpaid cost orders by both sides, in both civil and family proceedings, the wife requested mediation.

Rule 24(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure sets out a mediation process which is mandatory and must occur within 180 days from the date on which a first defence is filed “unless the Court orders otherwise”. Here, the 180-day period had elapsed and neither party had engaged a mediator. Arguments were raised by the defendants that the wife’s motion for mediation should be dismissed because of her non-payment of costs. The husband also had an outstanding cost obligation in the family matter.

Recognizing that the Court did not have the jurisdiction to set off the costs awards, Master Brott ordered mediation, not only with respect to the substantive issues in the case, but with respect to costs as well.

Far better to mediate than litigate.



In reading a back issue of The Economist, I came across a most interesting, thoughtful and stimulating article on modern families and children. Please have a look at the Special Report in The Economist (January 5-11, 2019 issue). The report focusses on childhood around the world, drawing on a number of reports and statistics from different countries to make its points. Topics covered are the following:

1) size of families

2) women in the workforce

3) fathers and paternity leave

4) early years education and its importance

5) the use of screens [electronic media] and its effect on children

6) development and importance of language skills

7) the disadvantages of poverty

Much of the content of this article bears directly on the work we do. A good read – and a bibliography is provided in the electronic version.

Until next time,


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