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Case Management Conference

A Case Management Conference (CMC) is required before a date will be set for trial unless a judge decides it would not be helpful to have one. The date may be set when you attend court for a First Appearance or the court date in the Summons could be for a CMC. A judge can decide not to have the CMC if the defendant has not served and filed a Reply and paid the filing fee.

The purpose of the CMC is to try to settle some or all of the issues. In some cases this may mean that a trial is not necessary; in other cases it may mean that the trial will be shorter and simpler. If all the issues cannot be settled at the CMC and a trial is necessary the CMC will be used to prepare for the trial.

Attendance

If you do not attend the CMC, your Claim or your Reply, Counterclaim or Third Party Notice, as the case may be, may be dismissed and/or judgment may be entered against you.

The CMC takes place at the court house. All parties to the action must attend the CMC and must have the authority to settle the matter.

You may bring a lawyer or agent to the CMC. Witnesses are not required and should not be brought to the CMC unless the judge has permitted it. You may bring a support person with you but it will be up to the judge to decide who remains in the case management conference room.

Preparing for a Case Management Conference

If the judge directs that the matter proceed to trial a date may be set at this time. Bring your personal calendar and be familiar with the availability of your witnesses.

All documents that you will rely on to support your case should be filed with the court and served on the other party well before the CMC. Serving the documents ahead of time can prevent delays that may be required if one party has not been fully informed about the case before the CMC. You must organize and bring all documents to the CMC even if you have already served them on the other party or parties.

Review your case and the other party's case and try to anticipate the questions you may be asked. If the other party does not attend the case management you may be in a position to obtain judgment or have the case dismissed, so be prepared to present your case and produce relevant documents to support your case.

Case Management Procedure

During the meeting the judge may give the parties input concerning their case including the judge's...

  • assessment of the strengths or weaknesses of each party's evidence
  • opinion of the law that might apply
  • suggestions for a possible resolution

At the CMC both parties tell the judge about their case and the judge talks to them about their case, the law that applies and possible solutions. Sometimes the judge will meet with each party separately. The procedure for a CMC can vary from case to case. You will be encouraged to discuss the issues in an open but courteous manner. Direct your remarks to the judge rather than the other party. How long a CMC lasts can vary from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

A CMC may be continued to another date if one or both parties come unprepared or the judge decides that further discussions or actions may assist in possible settlement. It can also be continued if more discussions are needed before the parties are ready for trial.

There are rules that are designed to allow the parties to speak freely during the CMC without fearing that they are prejudicing their case should it proceed to trial. The judge who conducts the CMC will not be the trial judge if the case goes to trial. All settlement discussions, including the opinions of the judge, are "off the record" so they cannot be used as evidence if the case goes to trial. The only things that will be communicated to the trial judge are any points of agreement between the two parties reached during the discussion.

Settling at a Case Management Conference

After receiving input from the judge, the parties may choose to settle their claim on any terms that they agree to.

Your settlement may be recorded as an agreement or as a final judgment of the court. If lawyers are involved, the judge may ask them to complete the necessary settlement documents. Court proceedings may be adjourned until the settlement is complete.

Preparing for Trial at Case Management Conference

If the parties do not agree to a settlement the CMC will be used to set a trial date and prepare for trial. The judge will give each party a Preparing for Trial package and also give an overview of the trial process.

The parties must give the judge information about the trial including...

  • the number and purpose of witnesses each party plans to call
  • whether there will be expert evidence or witnesses and the names, occupations, title/position of any expert witnesses
  • whether either party will be represented by a lawyer
  • if there are documents that need to be exchanged
  • how exhibits will be presented
  • whether there are any special requirements (for example, an out-of-town witness that wants to give evidence by telephone)

The trial judge may award certain costs if the matter could have reasonably been settled in the CMC but was not.

Trial management will also be discussed including such things as...

  • determining those issues which you can agree upon and therefore do not require evidence
  • employing a mutually agreed upon expert
  • agreeing to exchange additional information
  • discussing the evidence required including witnesses and documents
  • determining the amount of time required for trial

The parties are free to continue to try to settle the matter on their own. If the matter is settled the plaintiff should notify the court in writing.

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