Suits may be resolved at any time. However, all cases in the Ontario Superior Court will eventually be scheduled for a pretrial conference if a settlement doesn’t seem to be in the works.
Judges or associate judges are in charge of pretrial conferences. The court must submit a trial record to schedule a pretrial conference.
Once a trial record has been submitted, the court will assign you to assignment court and set a date for your pretrial conference.
To retain an open mind and work toward a resolution of the issues that are in dispute, the parties have the chance to debate the advantages and disadvantages of their case with a judge or associate judge during the pretrial conference. In addition, dates for the trial are often determined at the pretrial.
Subrule (2.1) of Rule 50.02 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure currently reads as of March 31, 2022:
(2.1) A pretrial conference must be set at a date that is not more than 120 days and not fewer than 30 days before the latter of the following dates unless a court order or applicable practice directive provides otherwise.
1. The trial’s scheduled first day.
2. The first day of the hearing when the trial is anticipated.
This reform will significantly change the Ontario Superior Court’s current procedures. The parties will not benefit from a judge or associate judge’s assistance in settling a dispute until virtually the time of the trial because pretrials only take place four months or less before the beginning of the trial. This new subrule will make parties spend more money preparing difficult-to-settle cases for trial, even though there are undoubtedly benefits that are anticipated, such as more meaningful pretrial conferences where the parties are prepared for trial and have all of their expert reports completed.
By Rule 50.03.1(1), each party must submit a certificate of readiness form (Form 50A) 30 days before the pretrial. This form must state whether the party intends to call any expert witnesses at trial, whether the expert’s report required by Rule 53.03 (1) or (2) has been served on the other parties, and if not, why not.
Any litigant not ready for trial during the pretrial may face sanctions due to these revisions. The following is the new subrule (2) of Rule 50.12:
The pretrial conference that was ineffective
(2) An order made under subrule (1) may call for the immediate payment of the expenses if the judge or associate judge believes that a pretrial conference over which they presided was unsuccessful due to a party’s conduct.
These new laws, therefore, have some teeth! Our judges and associate judges have undoubtedly faced several frustrating pretrials where the parties or their attorneys were still in need of submitting critical reports, effectively squandering the court’s time. With these new regulations, it is more likely that parties will use the pretrial conference as intended—as a chance to openly and honestly discuss the issues in the case to resolve, and if that resolution is not possible, to talk about scheduling concerns for the trial.
The judge or associate judge presiding over the pretrial will also have the freedom under these new regulations to set a schedule and, if necessary, postpone the trial date.
The present pretrial rules under Rule 50 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure will continue to apply to cases scheduled for trial before March 31, 2022.