Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR)
Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR) is a mediation service offered by the Office of the Chief of Commission and Tribunals to the complainant and respondent involved in a human rights complaint. Mediation through the TDR program is confidential, voluntary and free of charge. TDR allows the complainant and respondent (also known as the parties to the complaint) to meet with a Member of Commission who acts as a neutral mediator to try to settle the complaint before it goes to a tribunal hearing.
The Member of the Commission is appointed by the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals (Chief Commissioner) and has significant experience in alternative dispute resolution. The Members of the Commission all have law degrees and are trained in mediation and negotiation. They also have taken training in public interest and human rights issues as well as other applicable areas. The benefit of TDR is that a Member of the Commission, who regularly hears and makes decisions on human rights complaints, can help the parties settle the matter and may also provide a non-binding evaluation of the case. A non-binding evaluation is an informal assessment as to what an outcome might be if the matter is heard by a tribunal.
A settlement, if reached, would have input from all parties and is set out and signed by the parties in a Memorandum of Agreement and Settlement. In some cases, the Commission Director's legal counsel will also be involved in settlement discussions, particularly related to the public interest issues.
When a file reaches the tribunal stage, before the matter is set for a hearing, the Registrar will advise all parties of the availability of the TDR program. There are three ways a case may be referred to TDR once it is referred to the Tribunal:
- The parties and/or their counsel may request TDR.
- The Chief of the Commission and Tribunals recommends TDR for selected cases referred directly to the tribunal by the Commission Director pursuant to section 22(c) of the Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act) and for selected cases that the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals decides should go to a tribunal pursuant to section 26 of the Act.
- The Member of the Commission who is the chair of a tribunal assesses that a case should go to a TDR as a result of a pre-hearing conference.
If all of the parties confirm they are interested and agree, the case will be assigned to TDR by the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals. Further correspondence will set out the process, time and place for the TDR and a timetable for providing TDR written submissions. Since TDR is voluntary, if the parties do not wish to proceed to TDR, then the matter will be scheduled for a hearing.
The Member of the Commission will usually request that the parties provide them with a short written outline of the facts and issues (no more than 10 pages). The parties should also indicate potential remedies to the dispute. The documents should be provided to the Registrar, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, seven days before the TDR. The Member of the Commission will have been provided with a copy of the complaint, the response and the investigation report (if any) but will not have any other relevant material. It is the responsibility of each party to bring to the TDR all other material that may be relevant to their case, including any documents, letters, records, reports and medical information.
The parties who attend the TDR must have the legal authority to settle the complaint. TDR is a confidential process. Any settlement offers or admissions made in the TDR will not be used against the party making the offer or admission in any tribunal hearing. The settlement reached is binding once the Agreement setting out the terms of settlement is signed.
The complainant and respondent are encouraged to seek legal advice regarding their case before the TDR begins. They may also bring legal counsel, or an advisor, to the TDR to assist. If a settlement is reached through TDR, the parties will sign a document setting out the terms of the settlement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement through TDR, a tribunal hearing date will be set. The Member of the Commission who was the mediator at the TDR will not be involved in the tribunal hearing.
Any party involved in a TDR who needs accommodation, such as a translation or accessibility supports, must make arrangements with the Registrar, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, well in advance of the TDR.
TDR sessions in Calgary and Edmonton are held at these locations:
J.J. Bowlen Building
620 - 7 Avenue SW
7th Floor, 10155 - 102 Street
In other cities and towns, a venue will be confirmed.
For more information, contact Cathy Finlayson, Registrar, Office of the Chief of Commission and Tribunals, at 780-638-4635.
Revised: July 25, 2012
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