There are several steps to take in order to schedule your hearing.
Discuss with the other parties: You need to discuss two things with the other parties: (1) when they are available, and (2) how long they think the hearing will take.
It is important that you do not try to schedule a hearing for a day when another party is not available. If you do so, it is likely that the matter will simply be adjourned (postponed) and rescheduled. You could potentially even have a costs award made against you for wasting time.
Time Estimates: Once the other parties have told you how long they expect the matter to take, decide if you agree. How long you estimate your matter will take will impact what happens next.
- If your matter is estimated to take less than two hours, you can set it down for any day that the Court will sit in Chambers.
- If your matter is estimated to take more than two hours, you need to get Supreme Court Scheduling to reserve a date for you.
The process for reserving court dates varies for each registry. You can find the rules that apply in the registry where your case is going forward in by checking here.
Dates for lengthy chambers hearings go extremely fast. For example, in Vancouver, new chambers dates come available on the first Tuesday of the month at 8:30 am. The chambers dates are for the month after the next calendar month. So, for example, on the first Tuesday in January, dates for March become available. They go extremely fast. Often you will have to call multiple times to not get a busy signal. The new dates are generally all gone within an hour or so.
While it is inconvenient to set matters down for more than two hours, if you estimate too little time for your matter the Court may refuse to hear it. If the Court does hear the matter and it goes well over the time estimate the Judge or Master may get very cross at everyone involved. If you are asking the Court to do something, the last thing you want is to annoy the decision maker. Estimate your time accurately.
File the Notice of Application: Once you have a Court date, you can file your Notice of Application (see the next section of this Guidebook), which will set out the date of the hearing and the time estimate.
Preparing for an Application
A large part of preparing for an application is preparing the evidence that will be considered by the judge or master in deciding whether to grant the order requested in the application.
All the evidence in chambers is presented to the court by affidavit. See the Family Law Guidebook: Affidavits.
One of the most useful things you can do to prepare is to spend some time watching chambers hearings so you understand how applications are presented in court. In Vancouver and Victoria, chambers hearings are held every day or on set days throughout the week. At other courthouses they may be less frequent. You can contact the registry to find out when chambers hearings are scheduled in your location. Courtrooms, while in session, are open to the public and you are welcome to attend to observe the proceedings.