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Judge, Jury + Mediator: The One-Stop Shop of Binding JDR

In the landscape of legal dispute resolution, binding judicial dispute resolution (binding JDR) presents a compelling alternative to traditional litigation, merging judicial authority with the flexibility of mediation. This method is particularly beneficial for parties seeking a definitive and efficient resolution to their disputes, avoiding the lengthy processes associated with traditional court cases.

What is Binding Judicial Dispute Resolution?

Binding JDR is a specialized form of dispute resolution that operates within the framework of the court system but diverges significantly in approach and execution. At its core, binding JDR involves the participation of a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, acting not in the traditional judicial role to adjudicate based strictly on evidence, but rather in a capacity that blends judicial oversight with mediation skills.

The process is designed to be consensual; all parties must agree to engage in binding JDR, understanding that the outcome is legally binding and not subject to appeal. This binding nature stems from an agreement among the parties, which grants the presiding Justice the authority to make decisions that have the same enforceability as a court judgment.

During binding JDR sessions, the Justice enjoys considerable discretion and is not constrained by the rigid rules of evidence or typical court procedures. This flexibility allows the Justice to facilitate discussions and negotiations effectively, encouraging parties to explore mutually beneficial solutions. If a settlement is reached, it is formalized through a settlement agreement or court order. Conversely, if no settlement is achieved, the Justice has the authority to issue a binding judgment based on the deliberations and findings from the session.

Case Study: Strawson v Strawson, 2024 ABCA 126

In Strawson v Strawson, binding JDR was crucial in resolving a high-conflict matrimonial dispute involving property, debt, parenting, and support issues. This method was selected for its ability to provide a definitive and less adversarial resolution.

The parties, entangled in extensive matrimonial conflicts, agreed to participate in a binding JDR, entrusting a Justice to mediate and decide on the contentious issues. A settlement was not reached and as such, the Justice decided on the issues based on the deliberations from the sessions. There were ambiguities in the Justice’s initial decision, particularly regarding support payments and arrears, which led to further disputes. This necessitated additional clarification from the Justice, who issued a subsequent judgment to address these issues comprehensively.

The resolution faced challenges when the appellant questioned the legitimacy of the subsequent judgment, claiming that the Justice exceeded his jurisdiction by altering the final judgment without proper notice. However, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment, confirming that the binding JDR process allows the presiding Justice the authority to clarify decisions until an order or judgment is actually entered.

The appeal was dismissed, reaffirming the binding JDR Justice’s authority to finalize and clarify judgments as needed. This case highlights the binding nature of binding JDR outcomes and the limited scope for appeals, emphasizing binding JDR’s role in delivering equitable resolutions efficiently.

Pros + Cons of Binding Judicial Dispute Resolution


  • Efficiency: binding JDR resolves disputes quicker and often at a lower cost than traditional litigation.
  • Finality: Decisions are binding with limited appeal rights, ensuring a definitive end to disputes.
  • Privacy: Keeps sensitive proceedings private, away from public scrutiny.
  • Expertise: Allows a specialized Justice to mediate, providing informed insights.


  • Limited Appeals: The binding nature restricts the ability to appeal decisions.
  • Consent Requirement: All parties must agree to participate, which can sometimes be a barrier.
  • Pressure to Settle: There may be pressure on parties to compromise, potentially leading to unsatisfactory outcomes.


Binding JDR represents a transformative approach in dispute resolution, offering efficient and definitive outcomes. For those considering this route, understanding its structure, benefits, and limitations is essential. At Field Law, our dispute lawyers are equipped to navigate clients through the binding JDR process, or other appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms ensuring outcomes that are not only fair but also aligned with the fundamental principles of justice and expediency.

If you are seeking a swift and definitive resolution to your legal disputes, contact our Jordan Lalonde or Anthony Burden in Calgary, Jeremy Taylor in Edmonton, or any member of our Litigation Group.