As of January 1, 2020, rule 76.10 of Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure requires a Trial Management Plan to be agreed upon at least 30 days before the pre-trial conference. This is to have a plan to get trials done in 5 days or less.
Not only is the Trial Management Plan filed at least 5 days before the pre-trial conference (rule 76.10(4)(a)(0.i)) so that it can be discussed at the pre-trial and approved by the Court, the approved version becomes part of the trial record filed at least 10 days before the trial (rule 76.11(4)(d)).
The Trial Management Plan lists all the witnesses and sets out time limits for opening statements, evidence in chief by affidavits and discovery read-ins, cross-examination, re-examination and oral argument. The trial record is to contain a copy of the affidavits. There is limited direct examination (except perhaps when reply evidence is called) and it will be interesting to see which trial Judges read the affidavits before Court and which trial Judges read the affidavits during the trial. Since time is allotted to read affidavits during trial, it is best to assume that will be done, yet have witnesses ready for a potentially speedier trial if the trial Judge reads the trial record ahead of time.
Bearing in mind that there are 5.5 hours of Court time in any particular day, a reasonable breakdown of time for a simplified procedure rule 76 trial that is 5 days or less (up to 27.5 hours) is as follows (standard 2 party action), which leaves almost a day of unaccounted for time for contingencies:
- Preliminary issues, if any: 30 minutes
- Opening statement by plaintiff: 30 minutes
- Opening statement by defendant: 30 minutes
- Plaintiff’s case
- Plaintiff evidence by affidavit and read-ins: 3 hours
- Defendant cross-examinations: 5 hours
- Plaintiff redirect examinations: 30 minutes
- Defendant’s case
- Defendant evidence by affidavit and read-ins: 3 hours
- Plaintiff cross-examinations: 5 hours
- Defendant redirect examinations: 30 minutes
- Reply evidence
- Plaintiff reply evidence in direct: 20 minutes
- Defendant cross-examination: 30 minutes
- Plaintiff redirect examination: 10 minutes
- Plaintiff’s closing argument: 1.5 hours
- Defendant’s closing argument: 1.5 hours
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