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 this checklist is on the nuts and bolts, with advocacy decision up to those attending.

Long Range

  • Schedule the pre-trial conference through the Trial Coordinator’s office 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 reports at the first instance and 60 days before the pre-trial for responding expert reports).
  • If the pre-trial conference is shortly 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.

Preparing the Client

  • Notify the client of the date, time, location and meeting spot (since Courtroom numbers are assigned last minute.
  • Provide the client with a copy of all pre-trial conference briefs.
  • 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 Master or Judge.
  • Use a professionally-formatted template, such as those available here.
  • Ensure you have a pre-trial conference memorandum, together with a copy of the pleadings (plaintiff), witness list, key documents and expert reports.
  • Use any mediation brief as a starting point, if it accurately identifies the issues. Consider any developments since mediation. Do not re-use a mediation brief unless it is concise – Masters and 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.

Serve and File the Pre-Trial Conference Brief

  • Print, bind, 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).
  • For paperless offices and electronic filing, create a pdf version of the pre-trial conference brief that is easy to navigate, with an index and bookmarks for each of the tabs.

Day of the Pre-Trial Conference

  • 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 brief.
  • Take an extra copy of your rule 49 offer and disbursements list.
  • 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.

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.

For pre-trial services, please take a look at our Pre-trial Conference Package.

Ontario Civil Trial Manual

Trial Book Trial Manual Trial Checklist Trial Forms

This checklist is courtesy of the Ontario Civil Trial Manual and is trial information, not trial legal advice.

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The Ontario Civil Trial Manual and the Pre-Trial Conference Checklist are copyright © 2020.  For permission to reproduce part of the trial manual and/or pre-trial checklist please call (416) 944-2274 or email  Feedback and topic suggestions are welcome.  Thank you.

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