Prepared by Colleen G. Purich, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B. of the Alberta Bar
Trials — Part IV — Pre-trial Conference
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IV — Pre-trial Conference
§122 In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the rules provide that the court may, on the application of a party or on its own motion, direct the holding of a pre-trial conference to consider matters that may aid in the disposition of the proceedings. In Manitoba, these matters include the following: setting early trial dates and establishing timelines for the completion of steps in the litigation process; identifying and simplifying the issues to be tried in the action; avoiding wasteful or unnecessary pretrial activities; facilitating settlement of the action; and ensuring that the action is ready for trial by making orders and giving directions respecting substantive and procedural issues in the action. In Saskatchewan, these matters include the following: the simplification of the issues; the necessity or desirability of amendments to pleadings; the possibility of obtaining any
admission that will facilitate the trial; whether all necessary steps have been taken in preparation for trial; the quantum of damages; the trial time required; and the date for trial. In Manitoba, trial dates for an action may be set only by the pre-trial judge for that action. In Saskatchewan, no proceeding can be set down for trial without a pre-trial conference being held, unless otherwise ordered. This requirement is subject to the provisions governing actions to which the expedited procedure applies.
§123 In Saskatchewan, where one of the parties refuses to join in a joint request for a pre-trial conference, the party wishing to obtain a pre-trial conference may, upon filing the prescribed documents, apply for an order setting a date for the pre-trial conference. In Manitoba, where parties to an action are unable to reach agreement on a date for a pre-trial conference, a party may bring a motion to a judge to schedule a date for the pre-trial conference.
§124 Under the Federal Courts Rules, after the close of pleadings a party who is not in default under the rules or an order of the court who is ready for trial
may file and serve a requisition for a pre-trial conference. The parties and their solicitors of record must all participate unless otherwise directed by the court. Matters to be addressed at the conference include the possibility of settlement of any or all issues in the action, definition of any issues requiring the evidence of expert witnesses, the possibility of obtaining admissions, the estimated duration of the trial, suitable dates for trial, the necessity for interpreters at the trial, and the contents of the trial record.
§125 In the Federal Court, except in the case of a specially managed proceeding, where 360 days have elapsed since the issuance of the statement of claim and no party has requisitioned a pre-trial conference, the court must fix a time and date for a status review.
§126 Following the conference, the court may make an order reciting the results of the conference and giving directions. The order, when entered, controls the subsequent course of the proceedings unless modified by the pre-trial judge upon determining the original memorandum was incorrect.
§127 In the Federal Court, the judge or prothonotary conducting the pre-trial conference must fix the place for the trial of the action, and assign a date. The judge or prothonotary may also make any other order necessary respecting the conduct of the action, subject to the limits on the power of prothonotaries to make certain types of orders.
§128 The principle of judicial immunity from testifying means that the judge who presides at a pre-trial conference is not compellable to testify about the settlement of terms or purported settlement of terms reached in a pre-trial conference.
§129 Under the Federal Courts Rules, no communication may be made to the judge or prothonotary presiding at trial with respect to any statement made at a pre-trial conference, except as may be permitted in an order made at the conference or as consented to by the parties.
§130 In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the judge may try or hear the action only with the consent of parties.
§131 Under the Federal Courts Rules, a judge or prothonotary who conducts a pre-trial conference or a dispute resolution conference may not preside at the trial of the action unless all parties consent. Notwithstanding this restriction, a judge or prothonotary before whom an action has been set down for trial may, without being disqualified from presiding at the trial, hold a conference either before or during the trial to consider any matter that may assist in the just and timely disposition of the action.
§131.1 In British Columbia, a trial management conference must take place at least 28 days before the scheduled trial date,
unless otherwise ordered by the court. Parties may apply for an order by consent dispensing with the need for a trial management conference, which a judge or master will make if satisfied that the matter is ready to proceed to trial and can be completed in the time reserved for it.