9.15 Attending a Trial Management Conference (TMC)

A trial management conference is a meeting with a judge or master to assess trial preparedness. The judge or master wants to make sure that you are ready for trial. The purpose of the TMC is to deal with last minute issues before trial such as making sure all required documents are exchanged, and the time estimate for trials are still accurate. 

Trial conferences are mandatory unless the court says otherwise. Since you are representing yourself, you must attend the trial conference. Trial conferences are held at least 28 days before trial.

Sometimes trial conferences are seen as a meeting that does not have to be taken too seriously. In reality, a trial conference is a great opportunity. It is a chance for you to ask questions if you are unclear about anything trial-related. Use the meeting to your advantage. Make sure that you are clear about what is going to happen at trial. 

Trial Brief 

Lawyer’s Tip:

You must submit a trial brief to the court at least 7 days before your trial management 

A trial brief is a court document summarizing your case. To prepare a trial brief, use Supreme Court Form 45. The trial brief summarizes your position, identifies the witnesses you intend to call at trial, the time you expect these witnesses to take, and any expert reports or other documents that you will present as evidence. You must also list the laws you will be relying on to present your case to the judge. You must file this form at least 7 days before your TMC and serve it on your former spouse.

What a Judge can do:

  1. Order that the parties attend a judicial settlement conference 

     Judge’s Tip:

    Usually the judge at the trial management conference will not be the judge at trial. However, you can request to have the same judge at your trial (when a judge seizes themselves of your case). How todo this is discussed at Chapter 9.23.

  2. Create a roadmap for the trial
  3. Adjourn the trial (if it would be unfair to go forward)
  4. Change the amount of days set for trial
  5. Set time limits for witnesses and submissions
  6. Make changes to documents (such as the notice of family claim)
  7. Decide what documents and facts are admissible
  8. Ask that parties prepare a book of documents

Going to Your Conference

You should dress and behave appropriately at your trial management conference. You should be ready to discuss the details you put forward in your trial brief. 

Take the time to fill out the Trial Management Conference Worksheet to help you prepare.