What to Expect at a Trial Management Conference

Barrie Hayes, Partner

A Trial Management Conference is a procedural appearance which takes place after a Settlement Conference has been held and the Family Court Application remains unsettled.

The purposes of the Trial Management Conference include:

a) Exploring the chances of settling the case;

b) Arranging to receive evidence by written report and agreed statements of facts, by affidavit or by other method, if appropriate;

c) Deciding how the Trial will proceed;

d) Exploring the use of expert evidence or other reports at Trial, including the timing requirements for service and filing of experts reports;

e) Ensuring that the parties know what witnesses will testify and what other evidence will be presented at Trial;

f) Estimating the time needed for trial and setting the Trial date, if this has not already been done.

The Trial Management Conference can be combined with a Settlement Conference or Case Conference.

The Trial Management Conference, in essence, is held to organize issues and evidence in order that an accurate estimate of the Trial time required to hear the Application is determined.

The parties are required to file Trial Management Conference briefs prior to the Trial Management Conference. The Trial Management Conference briefs set out the issues outstanding that require Trial determination, an outline of the witnesses to be called at Trial, the topic about which the witness will testify and the estimate of time required for the witness to provide his or her evidence.

The brief is also to detail undisputed facts relevant to the Application and a detailing of disputed facts in relation to same.

Because the Trial Management Conference can also become a Settlement Conference, the parties are required to personally attend at the Trial Management Conference.

If the issues remain unresolved at the Trial Management Conference, the Judge will execute a Trial Management Endorsement, which sets out in considerable detail the timelines for filing various documents that are necessary for the conduct of the Trial (ie: filing trial record / affidavits of evidence / requests to admit / case law / written opening submissions).

The endorsement details the witnesses who are being called by both sides with time estimates for their evidence and addresses the requirement of expert evidence and reports.

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