If you have a Court hearing coming up for an ongoing case, there are chances that you have heard of the phrase ‘pre-trial review’.
Before the actual Court hearing takes place, the Court will send you a notice about attending a pre-trial review.
This simply means that you have to attend Court, to allow the Court to decide whether or not the case is ready to proceed to trial.
In civil cases, the two parties involved in a Court trial include the plaintiff, i.e., those who are suing, and the defendant, i.e., those who are being sued.
Once the defendant involved in the case files his/her defence in the Court, the Court sends the plaintiff a notice about the date and time of the pre-trial review. Generally, the case will be listed for a pre-trial review approximately four weeks before the trial date.
A pre-trial review is usually heard by a registrar, who is a judicial officer. In certain circumstances, an assessor or magistrate might oversee the review.
A pre-trial review is an opportunity for the plaintiff and defendant to check if their case can be settled. If the case is not settled at the pre-trial review, the registrar or magistrate will make orders for the case to be ready for a court hearing.
Essentially, during the pre-trial review, the Court will check whether both parties are ready to proceed to the final trial.
What Does The Court Check During A Pre-Trial Review?
When both parties are present, there are certain specific inquiries that the Court makes to determine if the case is ready to proceed to trial. These include: –
- Checking whether all the Court’s previous orders or decisions have been complied with.
- Making sure the witnesses are available and checking all the requirements that are needed to be fulfilled by the witness to attend the Court for cross-examination during the trial.
- Ensuring that the given time mentioned for the trial shows the time as estimated by both concerned parties.
Once these inquiries are made, the Court will determine if the case can proceed to trial. At the pre-trial review, the Court might also plan on setting limits on the time allocated at the final trial. The time-limits can be set for the presentation for both the parties’ cases, opening addresses, as well as closing addresses.
Preparing For A Pre-Trial Review
Before the pre-trial review, you need to prepare your case thoroughly. There are three things that you need to prepare before going to Court. These include: –
- Reading your documents.
- Reading your evidence.
- Considering settlement.
Guide To Remember If You Are Attending A Pre-Trial Review
- Know Where Your Courtroom is.
If you need to attend a pre-trial review, please make sure that you find your courtroom, and arrive at the courtroom at least 30 minutes before the review is scheduled for.
If for any reason you are running late, you need to make sure to inform the court registry beforehand. This is because the Court can cancel your statement of claim if you don’t reach the Court at the time the case is listed.
2. Attend the Pre-Trial Review
In the courtroom, make sure you are sitting close enough so as to be able to hear the court officer correctly when he calls out your name. If you remain absent after being called by the court officer, the Court can proceed with the pre-trial review without you.
3. Settlement Discussions
One of the Court’s most important agendas during a pre-trial review is to check if the two parties are willing to settle the dispute.
The registrar or magistrate will check if the defendant and plaintiff have had a chance to discuss settlements.
If the two parties are not able to reach a settlement at the pre-trial review or during mediation sessions, the Court will make orders accordingly.
4. Case Management Orders
The Court’s other important agenda is to make sure that both the parties are ready for the court hearing. The judicial officers will make case management orders. To do so, he court will: –
- Ask the parties what the issues are.
- Ask for the documents and witness statements that the parties intend to use during the court hearing.
- Set a date for the court hearing. The court hearing date could be set for anytime between one to four months.
- Ask the plaintiff to send copies of all evidence, especially witness statements, that the plaintiff will be relying on during the court hearing. The plaintiff has to send these documents to the Court and the defendant at least 14 days before the court hearing date.
If you want someone to come as a witness to the Court, or to bring documents to the Court, you will need a subpoena. A subpoena is an official court order given to an organisation or an individual, asking them to bring certain documents to the court on a specified date.
A subpoena cannot be filed and served unless the Court permits you to do so. You need to ask for permission during the pre-trial review.
In case the evidence that you will rely on during the hearing is in video format, you will need to confirm if the Court has the appropriate equipment to play the video. Similarly, if for some reason you have to attend the court hearing by telephone, you need to ask for permission to do so at the pre-trial review.
Why You Need Solicitors’ Guidance
For pre-trial reviews, legal advice is important because solicitors can ensure that clients have complied with all Court orders and decisions. If this isn’t checked thoroughly, there might be unnecessary delays in your case.
Since the Court requires you to submit a list of witnesses, solicitors can help prepare that list along with an approximate time estimate on how long it could take the witnesses to go through the questioning process at the court hearing.
Most importantly, solicitors will represent you at the pre-trial review. Court cases, no matter how straightforward, can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Having experienced solicitors by your side will enable you to stay calm for your review and trial in the future.
Our lawyers at JB Solicitors will efficiently assist you throughout your pre-trial review, and will ensure that you are ready, and well-prepared to attend the Court.
If you are looking for high-quality legal advice, and assistance for an upcoming pre-trial review, contact our experienced lawyers.