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.
- 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
If you’d like legal advice on pre-trial conference briefs and pre-trial conferences, please take a look at our services.
The trial resources are trial information, not legal advice.
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