Preparing for a Case Planning Conference
The purpose of a Case Planning Conference (sometimes called a “CPC”) is to bring the parties together early in the litigation to talk about how the case will proceed.
A Case Planning Conference is not mandatory but may be requested by the Court or either party when the pleadings are completed (that is, once the Notice of Civil Claim, Response to Civil Claim, any counterclaim, and any reply have been filed). They help ensure that cases keep moving forward in a reasonable way towards trial or resolution. They can be held by a judge or master. Often they are held by a master.
After a Case Planning Conference, the judge or master will make a “case plan order”. This will cover things like:
- Possible steps that might be taken to resolve the dispute (for information on how a case might be settled, see Alternatives to Court)
- Dates to complete discovery (see Discovery)
- Timelines for expert reports (see Experts)
Parties who are represented by a lawyer do not have to personally attend the Case Planning Conference unless ordered to do so by the Court. If you are self-represented, you must attend the Case Planning Conference.
Requesting a Case Planning Conference
Any party to an action may, at any time after the pleadings are completed, request a Case Planning Conference. Rule 5-1 sets out the procedure for requesting a Case Planning Conference. You can do this by contacting the court registry and advising them that you would like to schedule one. You then file and serve a notice of case planning conference (Form 19).
At any point in your lawsuit (after the pleadings are complete), the Court may direct that a Case Planning Conference take place. If that happens, the Court will direct that one of the parties request a Case Planning Conference.If you are going to schedule a Case Planning Conference, make sure to confirm that the other parties are available. If you set one when they cannot attend it may lead to unnecessary cost and delay.
The notice of the first Case Planning Conference must be served on the other party at least 35 days before the date set for the conference.
If there is more than one Case Planning Conference, you do not need 35 days notice anymore. Instead, notice for later Case Planning Conferences needs only seven days notice.
The notice period can be shortened if you apply to the Court (by requisition in Form 17) and explain the reasons why you want to hold the Case Planning Conference right away. For more information on requisitions, see Requisitions.
Preparing a Case Plan Proposal
Before the Case Planning Conference, you must prepare a Case Plan Proposal. This sets out how you propose that the case will proceed.
The plaintiff files its Case Plan Proposal first, and then the other party or parties must file theirs. The timing is:
- Plaintiff: Files a Case Plan Proposal within 14 days after the notice of the Case Planning Conference was served or received by the plaintiff
- Other Parties: File a Case Plan Proposal within 14 days after the plaintiff’s Case Plan Proposal is received
The case plan proposal must be in Form 20 and indicate the party’s proposal with respect to:
- Discovery of documents
- Examinations for discovery
- Dispute resolution procedures
- Expert witnesses
- Witness lists and
- Trial type, estimated trial length, and preferred periods for the trial date