Policy on Dispute Prevention and Resolution
Dispute prevention and resolution (DPR) is an important component of all Department of Justice activities.
- Dispute prevention:
- The initial component of any conflict management system is dispute prevention. This includes any measure that makes improvements or adjustments to relevant policies, processes, or operations to prevent a dispute before it arises, and is often a shared responsibility across the Government of Canada.
- Dispute resolution:
- Dispute resolution refers to all possible processes for resolving a dispute, from consensual to adjudicative. The appropriate method to resolve any given dispute can only be chosen after a careful assessment of the facts and circumstances. In making this evaluation, the interests of the parties, the nature of the dispute, any legal risks, as well as any statutory or policy restrictions governing the use of a particular dispute resolution process must all be taken into consideration.
- Dispute prevention and resolution:
- DPR refers to both interrelated concepts: dispute resolution and dispute prevention.
This policy replaces the 1996 Department of Justice Dispute Resolution Policy and reaffirms the Department of Justice’s commitment to the effective use of DPR.
This policy applies to all Department of Justice employees. Each employee should consider DPR principles in the conduct of their work related responsibilities, regardless of whether their position requires them to provide legal services, develop and implement Justice policy or programs, perform internal corporate functions or do any other task in executing the Department of Justice’s mandate. This includes, but is not limited to, the areas of work set out in the Commitments section of this policy.
The principles set out in this policy are relevant to and should be applied by employees when developing and implementing other Justice policies and frameworks.
Where possible, disputes should be prevented, or resolved at the earliest possible opportunity in a timely manner and before the situation escalates.
It is the responsibility of all employees to make every effort to prevent disputes from arising and, where they do arise, to use the DPR processes as appropriate in order to minimize, to the extent possible, recourse to court proceedings as the only avenue for resolution. While litigation may, in certain instances be the best choice, effective DPR means that all options will have been considered before resorting to the courts.
The Department of Justice also recognizes that the effective use of DPR can require the collaboration of clients, other parties and counsel, and any number of stakeholders.
The use of DPR is consistent with and affirms the principles of the Department of Justice’s mission statement which includes access to justice as well as the efficient administration of justice.
COMMITMENTS TO ACHIEVE OUR GOALS
The Department of Justice will continue to be a leader in promoting the use of DPR as follows:
- Justice employees will advise the client on the selection of the DPR processes that offer efficient and effective resolution given the nature of the dispute, the interests of the client and the consent of the other party or parties.
- In advising their clients regarding the appropriate use of DPR processes, Justice employees will respect the client’s decision making authority to determine whether a DPR process is appropriate.
- Justice employees, in collaboration with client departments and agencies, will endeavour to include appropriate DPR clauses into contracts, memoranda of understanding, and any other agreement involving the federal government.
- Where appropriate, when agents for the Crown are being retained, their knowledge of and experience in the use of DPR processes will be part of the selection criteria.
- Justice employees will use best efforts to prevent disputes from arising and will consider the use of DPR processes at the earliest possible stage of any conflict.
- Justice employees will ensure that, where appropriate, efficient and effective forms of DPR be integrated into draft legislation.
Policy and Program Initiatives
- Justice employees will integrate innovative and collaborative DPR processes, where appropriate, into policy and program initiatives.
- Justice employees will work in cooperation with both government and non-governmental organizations in advancing our knowledge of and experience with DPR.
- Information and tools will continue to be provided to Justice employees regarding the purpose and utility of DPR.
- Training will continue to be available for Justice employees regarding the effective use of DPR processes.
Workplace Conflict Management
- Justice employees will attempt to prevent conflicts from arising or escalating, to appropriately manage and resolve interpersonal workplace dynamics, and to promote a harmonious and respectful workplace.
For any questions on this Policy, please contact the Law Practice Management Division (firstname.lastname@example.org), the centre of expertise for dispute prevention and resolution in the Department of Justice.
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