A Dispute Resolution Conference (DRC) is an informal meeting between parties and facilitated by a Board Member before a hearing is scheduled. DRCs are conducted pursuant to Rules 18 and 19 of the Surface Rights Board Rules.
These meetings serve several purposes:
- identifying issues in dispute
- exploring how likely the parties are to settle the dispute outside of the Board
- discussing the possibility of mediation with a Board Member to resolve the matter
- for more information, see Mediation for surface rights.
- if parties are unlikely to settle, agreeing on a hearing date, hearing location, possible evidence and witness lists, disclosure dates and any other facts needed to prepare for a hearing
- narrowing the issues in dispute
- for example, the parties might already agree on facts like effective dates, size of the land, and some portions of the compensation
Step 1. The Board schedules the pre-hearing Dispute Resolution Conference (DRC) and invites parties to attend
The Board may schedule a DRC whenever an application is contested. It will also schedule one automatically after issuing a Right of Entry Order to discuss compensation.
All parties to the application are invited to attend, but unlike hearings, they are not open to the general public. All parties with authority to resolve outstanding matters should attend.
Step 2. Parties prepare for an in person the pre-hearing DRC
The parties should bring any information and documents to the DRC that they think will be helpful to support their position on any issues in dispute.
Documents exchanged are confidential. Parties should also bring their long-term datebooks so that a hearing date can be set, if necessary.
Lawyers may not be required, but parties may invite them if they wish.
Step 3. The pre-hearing DRC is held
DRCs are typically held through a teleconference, though if requested by the parties they may be held in person. A Board Member / Settlement Officer will guide the discussion and give the parties an informal setting to explore the likelihood of a resolution.
If necessary, the Board Member / Settlement Officer will seek to set a hearing date, date for disclosure, and ascertain any facts that are not in dispute. The Board Member / Settlement Officer may also direct the parties to mediation if they feel it may resolve the dispute.
The parties may decide to discuss costs at a DRC, but if they fail to reach an agreement about costs, the issue may be addressed at a hearing.
No detailed minutes will be taken at the DRC, though a DRC Record will be sent out to the parties who were invited outlining the outcomes and actions required (if any).
For more information about Settlement Officer, see Information Bulletin – Settlement Officer (PDF).
For more detailed information regarding DRCs and subjects discussed at the conferences, please refer to Rule 19 of the Surface Rights Board Rules.
Step 4. Outcome of the DRC
There are many potential outcomes from a DRC. If the parties reach an agreement, they may enter into private agreements or request a Board Order (see Settlement Agreement). If the parties do not come to a resolution, the matter will likely proceed to one of the following:
If you wish, you may request that the Board Member who conducted your DRC not be on the panel for your hearing, and you make ask to have that request noted on the record of the DRC.