Pre-Trial Conference Checklist

This pre-trial conference checklist is created with lawyers in mind, but businesses and individuals with cases before the Courts can also use it. The focus of the pre-trial checklist is on the nuts and bolts of pre-trial conferences, leaving advocacy decisions up to the checklist user.

Long Range

  • After setting the matter down for trial, schedule the pre-trial conference through the Trial Coordinator’s office (sometimes with a trial certificate form) or at Trial Scheduling Court (aka To Be Spoken To Court in Toronto).
  • Ensure the appropriate expert reports are complete (90 days before the pre-trial for expert reports and 60 days before the pre-trial for responding expert reports).
  • It is advisable to re-visit the value of your case and make a reasonable rule 49 offer to settle before the pre-trial conference. There is a good chance the pre-trial Judge will ask about offers.
  • A Certificate of Readiness needs to be filed at least 30 days before the pre-trial conference.
  • If the pre-trial conference is scheduled weeks or months before trial, then you need to have trial preparation well underway. Key trial resources we offer include trial book HOW TO WINg A TRIAL and the Ontario Civil Trial Checklist (much more in-depth and detailed than this brief checklist).

Preparing the Client

  • Notify the client of the date, time, location (including any video conference details) and if in person a meeting spot at the Courthouse (since Courtroom numbers are assigned last minute). For in person pre-trials, most Courthouses post dockets indicating which Courtroom or conference room a pre-trial is in.
  • Provide the client with a copy of all pre-trial conference briefs so they can come prepared, having read about the key issues.
  • Have a frank discussion with the client about the strengths and weaknesses of the case, appropriate case valuation and what to expect at a pre-trial conference.

Drafting the Pre-Trial Conference Brief

  • Keep it short. A pre-trial conference brief is an executive summary for a busy Judge.
  • Use a professionally-formatted template, such as those available by clicking here for our precedent pre-trial conference briefs.
  • Ensure you have a pre-trial conference memorandum, together with a copy of the pleadings (plaintiff), witness list, key documents and expert reports.
  • Use you mediation brief as a starting point for your pre-trial conference brief. Consider any developments since mediation. Do not just re-use a mediation brief unless it is concise – Judges do not have as much time as mediators.
  • If you focus on a particular practice area, it is a good idea to develop a precedent pre-trial conference brief for your practice area.
  • For simplified procedure matters, complete a Trial Management Plan and Trial Management Checklist. There’s an irony that for “simplified procedure” matters there are these additional requirements for the pre-trial conference brief.

Serve and File the Pre-Trial Conference Brief

  • Assemble (hard copy or pdf), serve and file the pre-trial conference brief. The deadline is 5 business days before the pre-trial conference (not including weekends and statutory holidays), but the earlier the better.
  • For paperless offices and electronic filing, create a pdf version of the pre-trial conference brief that is easy to navigate, with a hyperlinked-index and bookmarks for each of the tabs.

Day of the Pre-Trial Conference

  • Listen to the Judge. They have a wealth of experience as a lawyer and as a Judge.
  • Take an extra copy of your witness list, which may be attached to the Trial Management Report to the Trial Judge.
  • Be ready to give a 2 minute executive summary of the claim orally to supplement the pre-trial brief.
  • Take an extra copy of your rule 49 offer and disbursements list.
  • The client must attend with authority to settle and be ready to make quick decisions about settlement (time is limited).
  • Be alert to trial management issues that may be discussed.

After the Pre-Trial Conference

  • If the matter settled, ensure it is adequately documented and implemented.
  • If the matter did not settle then proceed with the following:
    • Add the pre-trial conference report to the trial record.
    • Provide the client with a copy of the pre-trial confernece report.
    • Adjust rule 49 offers if appropriate.
    • Continue with trial preparation.

More on Pre-Trials

For more information on pre-trial conferences, please take a look at How to Conduct a Pre-Trial Conference and our Top 10 Tips for Pre-Trial Conferences.

If you’d like legal advice on pre-trial conference briefs and pre-trial conferences, please take a look at our services.

Trial Resources

Resources by a trial lawyer, available online:

Trial Book Trial Manual Trial Checklist Trial Forms

Trial Services

If you would like legal advice from an experienced trial lawyer:

Check out our Services Consult Trial Counsel


This website and all resources are trial information, not trial legal advice.

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