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It’s autumn. Or for those in northern Ontario and Manitoba…Winter is coming. Paul Ingrassia, Scarfone Hawkins Law

It’s autumn. Or for those in northern Ontario and Manitoba…Winter is coming. Paul Ingrassia, Scarfone Hawkins Law

The season change marks a sports fan’s dream.  October baseball, the start of the NHL, NFL and NBA seasons, the latter witnessing the return of the Champs to Canada…“We the North!  We the North!”[1]

And with this season change comes a flood of litigation back into Ontario’s court system, awoken from its summer slumber of lawyer holidays and judges’ extra long weekends.

Litigation and the sports forum are borne of similar principles and clichés:  “winner takes all”, “this is a slam dunk”, “playing hard ball” and the oft referred to phrase of every litigation case having a “50/50 shot” because of the “Monday morning quarterbacking” inherent in any litigious proceeding and the fact that on “any given Sunday” a judge may not agree with your case.

Before litigants march off to the field of battle however, consider employing a more tempered approach.  Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR as it is commonly referred to in legal practice, can offer a flexible, cost-effective, private, and less acrimonious solution to your legal dispute.

Whether your legal issue is matrimonial, commercial, or employment related, ADR, which term includes mediation (both voluntary and mandatory), private arbitration, and collaborative practice in the family law arena, can avoid the emotional, financial, and psychological toll that litigating vis-à-vis the traditional court system has on its players.

You may believe you have the “slam dunk” case and you are prepared to “swing for the fence” but, the costs of litigating in the modern era is on the brink of being prohibitive for the average person(s) or company.

Many clients come to me seeking legal advice on how to commence a claim against or defend one brought by their legal rival.  Our dialogue almost always includes a reference by the client to the “P” word: Principle.  Principles are all well and good, but principles are expensive when playing the litigation game and even more so when lawyers litigate the “P” word in court.

Clients often leave my office with more counsel than formal legal advice.  That counsel always includes the possibility of employing a conciliatory strategy by first understanding the numerous benefits and commercial practicality of ADR.

Playing on the ADR court can ultimately resolve your dispute outright, or at minimum, narrow the legal issues in a discreet and private manner in order to move the parties toward home base if no resolution is reached.

As a larger city centre with a strong legal tradition servicing the GTA and GTHA, Hamilton is uniquely positioned to service clients who wish to tap out of the octagon of the courtroom experience and opt in to the ADR system.  Hamilton has several homegrown and very experienced former lawyers and retired judges who now offer their services in both mediation and arbitration.

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A good resolution is one where all parties walk away with a bad taste in their mouth.  I can assure you however that as bad as you may believe the taste is at the time of resolving a matter through the ADR process, it is infinitely more palatable than risking an “L” in the courtroom and having to pay your lawyer, the opposing lawyer, and whatever damages may have been ordered against you by the ultimate referee – the Judge – and his or her first name is not Aaron.

Yogi Berra, the famed New York Yankees catcher and coach, famously quipped “when you come to a fork in the road, take it”. 

If you find yourself in the stadium tunnel, awaiting a triumphant entry onto the litigation field, you may want to heed the advice of the wise and irreverent Yogi, take a step back and consider taking the road to ADR.


[1] The “We the North Movement“ now encompasses the “She the North Movement” referring to US Open Tennis Champion Bianca Andreescu.

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