Trial Management Conferences
A trial management conference (sometimes called a TMC) is a meeting with a judge or master to discuss how the trial of your case will precede (Rule 12-2).
The trial management conference must take place at least 28 days before the scheduled trial date at a time and place fixed by the registrar (Rule 12-2(1)).
However, if all parties agree that a trial management conference is not required, the parties may apply for a “consent order” that no trial management conference need occur (Rule 12-2(3.4)) When applying for that order, all parties must have prepared a trial brief, and all trial briefs must be attached to the application for a consent order. If a judge or master is satisfied that the matter is ready to proceed to trial and can be completed in the time estimated, then no trial management conference needs to occur.
The parties and their lawyers must attend the conference. If a party is represented by a lawyer, they do not have to attend provided they are readily available for consultation during the conference either in person or by telephone. If you are required to attend but fail to do so, the judge or master may proceed without you, adjourn the conference, or order you to pay costs to another party.
At the trial management conference, the judge or master may consider and make orders on many issues under Rule 12-2(9), including:
- A plan for how the trial should be conducted
- Amendment of pleadings
- Facts to be admitted at trial
- Documents to be admitted at trial, including agreements as to the purpose for using the documents at trial or preparing a common book of documents;
- Limits on how long witnesses can be examined and cross-examined
- That the evidence of witnesses be presented at trial in affidavit form
- Adjournment of the trial
- That the opening statements and final submissions be presented in writing and
- That the number of days set aside for trial should be changed
The judge or master cannot hear any application by which affidavit evidence is required or make a final order in the case unless the parties consent.
The Court tries to make sure that the same judge hearing the trial management conference will hear the trial. This is not always possible so you may have a different judge or master at your trial management conference.
For more guidance on this consent order process, see Practice Direction 51 – Consent Order to Dispense with Trial Management Conference in Civil Cases.
Prepare a Trial Brief
The plaintiff, the party starting the claim, must file a trial brief (Form 41) at least 28 days before the trial management conference and serve it on the other parties. The other parties must file their own trial brief (Form 41) at least 21 days before the trial management conference, and serve it on all other parties.
The trial brief summarizes the positions of the parties on unresolved issues, identifies the witnesses who will give evidence at trial, the time required for the witnesses’ testimonies, as well as the expert reports and other documents that will be put into evidence. You must also list the legal authorities that you will be relying on to present your case to the judge.
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