In many ways a pre-trial conference is similar to the mediation process but parties to a pre-trial conference may find that its structure is a little more formal. Pre-trial conferences, just like mediation, is designed to allow the parties to resolve their dispute without having to take the time or expense of taking their issue all the way to trial. The process allows for the parties to articulate the dispute from their perspective and to be heard in a more formalized setting.
What to Expect When Going to Pre-Trial Conference for Civil Matters
Unlike mediation, pre-trial conferences are heard in front of a judge. Lawyers are encouraged to be part of the process, but parties who wish to represent themselves at a pre-trial conference must have permission from the judge prior to doing so. The lawyers will typically lay out the facts that are relevant to the matter before their clients are given 5-10 minutes to explain what is important to them. Although the judges have limited decision making authority during a pre-trial conference, they will typically indicate in other ways which side they are leaning towards. They may tip off one party or the other that, if the file proceeds to trial, there odds of success are limited. Although the judge presiding over your pre-trial conference will not be the same judge at trial, pay attention to what the judge is saying during a pre-trial conference as this may give you strong indication that you should consider settling your matter before proceeding to trial.
What if We Cannot Reach a Resolution During a Pre-Trial Conference?
If no resolution can be reached during a pre-trial conference, the judge will direct the matter to proceed to trial. The judge may also make other orders that they deem necessary. For example, ordering the exchange of certain or all of the relevant documents to the matter, and other details necessary to complete the path to trial.
Do you require a lawyer to attend a pre-trial conference with you? Would you like more information about the pre-trial conference process?
Contact Ahlstrom Wright in Sherwood Park, Alberta or Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
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