March 21, 2023
In this blog post, I aim to briefly summarize the Rule 24.1 mandatory mediation process under Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure. This post is intended to benefit law students, legal academics, litigants and lawyers researching or participating in Ontario mandatory mediation.
As per Rule 24.1.01, the purpose of mandatory mediation is to reduce costs and delays in litigation and to facilitate early resolution of disputes. Currently, Rule 24.1 mediations are only applicable to Superior Courts located in Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa. Under the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program (OMMP), certain areas of law are exempt from mandatory mediation such as Commercial List disputes, mortgages actions, construction proceedings except for trust claims, bankruptcy matters and family law litigation. In addition, the court may order an exemption to mandatory mediation under a party’s motion as per Rule 24.1.05. Overseeing the OMMP system is the Civil Rules Committee along with local mediation committees and coordinators. The role of committees is to hire mediators to the mandatory mediation roster, as well as monitor performance of mediators and respond to complaints against mediators. For coordinators, their role is to provide general oversight over the administration of mandatory mediation in their jurisdiction. Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa each have local mediation committees and coordinators.
Often, mandatory mediation is conducted by a private mediator that is selected or appointed from the OMMP roster. Additionally, non-roster mediators can also conduct mandatory mediations. Selecting a non-roster mediator is especially beneficial if they have special knowledge of the type of dispute being dealt with. However, if such a mediator is not available, a roster mediator can perform the mediation. Regardless of whether a roster or non-roster mediator is selected, the requirements under Rule 24.1 must be fulfilled.
Typically, mandatory mediation occurs within 180 days of filing the first defence unless the court orders otherwise. Under Rule 24.1.09(2), the court can extend the 180-day period in exceptional circumstances and can grant a postponement under Rule 24.1.09(3) if the parties consent to it in writing. In the normal course, mediation coordinators would receive notice from the parties outlining the name of the mediator and the date of the mediation session within the 180-day period. A week prior to the mediation, the parties must give their mediator a Statement of Issues which contains the facts of the dispute and the positions of the parties.
Regarding the location of a mandatory mediation, it can take place at a mediator’s office, a rented facility, a local courthouse or over videoconference. Mediations are scheduled for three hours and any information discussed remains confidential. Parties are mandated to attend the mediation with their lawyers unless the court orders otherwise. Attendees must have the authorization to settle and any settlements made are agreed upon in writing and are legally binding.
With respect to mandatory mediation costs, the parties split the mediator fees. As enumerated under the regulations of the Administration of Justice Act, roster mediators cannot charge more than $600 plus tax for a three-hour two-party mediation. If a party cannot afford the fees, the Ontario government can cover costs if financial eligibility criteria are met. Specifically, a party must not have liquid assets in excess of $1,500 and they must not make more than $18,000 per annum. Upon conclusion of the mediation, the mediator is to provide a report to their local mediation coordinator.
Various sources online cover certain components of the OMMP system, but I hope that readers can rely on this post as a valuable source that concisely summarizes Rule 24.1.
For more information related to this post, please visit the following websites:
- Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure
- Ontario Mandatory Mediation Roster
- Contact information for local mediation coordinators
 Rules of Civil Procedure, RRO 1990, Reg 194, Rule 24.1.01.
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.04(1).
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.04(2).
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.05.
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.07(4).
 Supra note 1, Rule 24.1.09(1).
 Ibid Rule 24.1.09(2)-(3).
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.09(5)(a).
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.10(1).
 Government of Ontario, “Mandatory mediation for civil cases” (29 November 2021), online: Government of Ontario [Government of Ontario]; Bernard Morrow, et al., “Virtual Mediation: Welcome to the New Normal” (Ontario: Ontario Bar Association, 2020) 1 at 2.
 Supra note 1, Rule 24.1.14.
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.11(1).
 Ibid, Rule 24.1.11(2).
 RSO 1990, Reg 43/05, s 4; supra note 14, Government of Ontario.
 Government of Ontario, “Mandatory Mediation Access Plan” (29 November 2021), online: Government of Ontario <https://www.ontario.ca/page/mandatory-mediation-access-plan>.
 Supra note 1, Rule 24.1.15(1).