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NEW SERVICE: APB launches new Virtual Family Mediation Project with provincial partners

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 16, 2021-- Access Pro Bono Society of BC, BC’s Provincial Court and the Ministry of Attorney General launch the innovative Virtual Family Mediation Project to reduce the backlog of separation and divorce matters awaiting resolution in family courts.

Separation and divorce are often time-consuming and costly processes for BC families. Resolving family relationship breakdowns in court can also be traumatizing for everyone involved. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these negative experiences, and has increased delays and other barriers to swift resolution within an already overburdened justice system.

Access Pro Bono has partnered with the Ministry of Attorney General and a BC-based technology start-up, Qase, to launch a pilot project enabling online family mediations for low and modest income families engaged in the Provincial Court’s Early Resolution Process. This project uses new online technology to facilitate early resolution of family law matters—thereby saving money and reducing stress for families, and improving access to justice.

“The Qase platform will dramatically improve the timeliness and reach of our services as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by serving critical legal needs with the safety of online connections,” said Jamie Maclaren QC, Executive Director of Access Pro Bono. “Our lawyers, frontline staff and clients will all benefit from the cutting-edge technology. We look forward to using it to improve access to justice during the late stages of the pandemic and far beyond.”

APB promotes access to justice in BC by providing free legal services to people and non-profit organizations of limited means. As one aspect of its full spectrum of free legal services, APB conducts approximately 500 half-hour, face-to-face legal advice sessions each month in 55 cities and towns across the province.

“We know that having to go to court to resolve family law issues, such as child support or parenting time, can have a significant negative impact on families,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “By taking those issues out of the courtroom where possible, this project will lead to better outcomes for families, reducing stress and help them deal with matters more quickly and efficiently. It is another great example of how technology can improve access to justice and deliver a system that better supports the needs of British Columbians, wherever they are in the province.”