Notices to Counsel
March 6, 2014
On January 28, Chief Adjudicator Dan Shapiro of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat filed three important documents with the Supervising Courts for the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA):
- Bringing Closure, Enabling Reconciliation: a plan for resolving the remaining IAP Caseload (Completion Strategy)
- Incomplete File Resolution (IFR) procedure
- Lost Claimants Protocol
Please take the time to read all three documents – they contain important information about the IAP and the procedures that we plan to use to resolve the remaining files in our caseload.
The document Bringing Closure, Enabling Reconciliation: a plan for resolving the remaining IAP Caseload (known as the Completion Strategy) outlines how we will resolve the remaining IAP caseload in a fair, impartial and claimant-centred manner. It provides an outline of the progress we have made to date and estimated timeframes for completion of the IAP. It also describes the remaining challenges as we move towards completion of our mandate.
The Completion Strategy highlights the numerous measures the Secretariat has adopted to increase the number of claims that can be processed each year. These include:
- Expediting hearings for elderly or frail claimants.
- Utilizing an Accelerated Hearings Process to make the hearing process more efficient by scheduling “blocks” of hearings wherever possible to allow more hearings to be scheduled and allowing cases to proceed to hearing before all document production is complete, with file management assistance of an adjudicator
- Working with agencies that hold the medical, employment and other documents that are required to support IAP claims to reduce the delays often encountered in producing and disclosing these documents.
Along with the completion strategy, we have also released information about a proposed Incomplete File Resolution (IFR) procedure and a Lost Claimants Protocol which have been submitted to the Supervising Courts for approval. These two documents outline the measures we have proposed to resolve the more difficult cases that we are unable to make progress on. Once approved by the Supervising Courts, these documents will be critically important to you as they outline how we propose to deal with cases that have stalled for a variety of reasons. They provide specific guidance to adjudicators who are assigned to these cases.
The Incomplete File Resolution procedure aims to resolve cases that are not proceeding to a hearing and cases that have no reasonable possibility of concluding with a hearing. Such claims include, but are not limited to, situations where the claimant has died or become incapacitated (and the estate/representative is not pursuing the claim), or where contact with the claimant has been lost. At the present, there is no way to resolve such claims.
IRSAS staff and adjudicators will use an intensive case management approach for files in the Incomplete File Resolution procedure. Adjudicators who work in the IFR procedure will be tasked with identifying and resolving issues quickly, informally and cooperatively, and making every effort to resolve cases in the normal stream whenever possible.
The Incomplete File Resolution procedure includes safeguards at every stage to protect the claimants' rights. It also includes a mechanism to dismiss some claims where progress cannot be made.
The Incomplete File Resolution procedure includes two steps.
Step One involves Case Analysis and Resolution. It includes intensive administrative and adjudicative file management. IRSAS will begin using this aspect of the IFR (immediately). We expect that the file management process will result in a significant number of claims becoming “hearing-ready.”
Step Two (Special Resolution Process) will be used for cases that do not become hearing-ready after intensive management in Step One. The implementation of Step Two will be deferred until: (a) Court approval thereof; and (b) the Oversight Committee provides direction regarding its implementation.
Please read the IFR procedure for more details.
The Lost Claimant Protocol will be used to locate claimants who cannot be found by the Secretariat or their counsel.
The Protocol includes adopting pro-active measures to contact lost claimants. Every effort will be made to locate or contact lost claimants, all the while ensuring that measures are in place to protect their confidentiality.
The Lost Claimants Protocol is subject to approval by the Courts, however we can begin using portions of it immediately.
Please read the Lost Claimants Protocol for more details.
If you have any questions about the Completion Strategy, the Incomplete File Resolution procedure or the Lost Claimants Protocol, please contact the Chief Adjudicator’s Office.
To date, we have resolved more than 25,000 cases in the IAP as a result of hard work and diligence by all Parties to the IRSSA, including claimant counsel. Nonetheless, there are still over 12,000 active files that await resolution.
We will hold about 4,200 hearings in 2013-14, a near record number for the Secretariat. In 2014-15, we expect to hold 4,500 hearings, more than we have ever held in a single year. The remaining hearings – about 3,100, according to projections in the Completion Strategy – will be heard in 2015-16. We anticipate that all claimant first hearings will be held by the spring of 2016 and that all post-hearing work and decisions will be finalized by spring 2018.