The Road to Trial – A Civil Trial Preparation Checklist

This article will give an overview of key things one ought to do on the road to trial.  It is not necessarily a comprehensive list of all options, but hits on the most important things to do.

Claim issued until action set down for trial

Prepare every case like you are going to trial.

Any case or trial involves gathering, processing and presenting information.  Gather as much information as possible through the discovery phase and through one’s own investigations.  Obtaining written statements from all witnesses, including your client, will pay off down the road.

You’ll be working on and revising your theory of the case during this initial period.

The amount of work at trial is immense and before setting the case down is a good time to consider settlement and make an offer to settle that is aggressive enough that you can do better at trial.

Set the case down for trial.

Set down for trial until pre-trial conference

At least 90 days before the pre-trial conference, expert reports are due.  You should take a final look at what experts you have hired and whether there are any gaps.  For example, in MVA cases there must be enough experts to address the threshold.  In a commercial case, consider whether a damages assessment requires a financial professional.

Activate witness management by putting together a list of witnesses and their role and key contribution.  You’ll need to know who your witnesses are in order to make an informed trial length estimate.

Attend the pre-trial conference ready to discuss settlement and what the trial will look like.

3 months before trial

Continue with witness management including heads up letters for witnesses and summonses.

Use a request to admit to obtain as many factual admissions as possible and to confirm the authenticity of as many documents as possible.

2 months before trial

Complete a joint trial document brief or in the alternative an ordinary trial document brief.

Deliver your Evidence Act notices, be they for business records or  medical experts and medical reports.

Begin working on your direct examinations and cross-examinations.

1 month before trial

Prepare your witnesses to testify.

Complete work on your direct examinations and cross-examinations.

Consider an agreed statement of facts.

Draft your opening statement and closing argument as well as a trial factum.

10 days before trial

Obtain a list of potential Jurors.

Rehearse your story, including opening statements, direct examinations, cross-examinations and closing argument.

This article is courtesy of the Ontario Civil Trial Manual

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This manual is trial information, not trial legal advice.

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