Scheduling and preparing for a Supreme Court trial

(transcript of video)

If your and the other party's issues can't be settled out of court, you may have to go to trial. Our self-help guide How to schedule and prepare for your Supreme Court trial can help you navigate this process and provides a timeline of important tasks.

In this video, we touch on the major points covered in the guide, including how to schedule a trial, what happens at a Trial Management Conference, and how to file and serve the required documents.

Schedule your trial

A trial is officially scheduled by filing the Notice of Trial form.

You can find it on the Court forms page of our family law website. If you filed the Notice of Family Claim, you'll usually also be the one to file the Notice of Trial. Both of these forms must be filed at the same registry.

Before filing the Notice of Trial, you need to know what trial dates to put down. If you've had a Judicial Case Conference, a judge may have already given you dates for your trial. If you haven't had a Judicial Case Conference or you didn't get a trial date at a Judicial Case Conference, you'll have to book your trial dates at the court registry.

At the court registry, find the Trial Scheduling desk. Ask when you might expect to have your trial. Be prepared that this could be as far away as 12 – 18 months in some areas.

Look at your schedule and choose some dates that work for you. Then make sure they also work for the other party. This isn't just a courtesy — if you book dates with Trial Scheduling and then find out that the other party isn't available, you risk having your trial adjourned, or put off to an even later date.

Take the dates that you and the other party agree on to Trial Scheduling and see if any of those dates match ones the courthouse has free. Once you find dates that fit, Trial Scheduling will reserve them for you. Now you can file the Notice of Trial and serve it on the other party. You have to do this within 30 days of Trial Scheduling reserving your trial dates.

Attend a Trial Management Conference

When Trial Scheduling gives you your trial dates, they usually give you a date for your Trial Management Conference too. This conference will take place at least 28 days before the first scheduled day of your trial. It's a short meeting with a judge and the other party in a courtroom where the judge will make sure that you're both organized and on track with your trial preparations. If you have any questions or concerns about the trial, you can ask them here.

The judge can also make orders on a whole range of topics during the Trial Management Conference. They can place time limits on different parts of your trial, order that you and the other party go to a settlement conference, or even order that the trial be adjourned. The orders the judge makes will depend on your particular situation.

You have to go to the Trial Management Conference. The only way you don't have to go is if you have a lawyer who can go in your place.

Other documents to prepare, file, and serve

Before your trial you'll also have to prepare, file, and serve various court forms and other documents. Filing means taking the documents to the court registry and giving them to the registrar to stamp. Serving means delivering documents to the other party and filling out a form to prove that you've done this (or had someone else do it). You'll probably have experience with this from earlier in your case.

The documents you need to prepare, file, and serve include expert reports, the Trial Brief, the trial record, the Trial Certificate, and, if you're applying for a divorce, a Certificate of Pleadings. There are very specific deadlines for each of these documents, so make sure you check our self-help guide to ensure you have the right dates.

See our self-help guide, How to schedule and prepare for your Supreme Court trial for more detailed information on everything we've talked about in this video, and explore our family law website for more resources and information.

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Jointly developed by the Legal Services Society and the People's Law School, with generous funding from the Law Foundation of BC

Filmed and produced by Michael Augustine
Narrated by Winnifred Assmann
Written by Kate Hunt
Legally reviewed by Erin Shaw and Justice Victoria Gray
Courtroom photography by Dan Daulby
Image selection and titles by Brian Goncalves

Special thanks to:
Terresa Augustine
The Law Courts -- Vancouver

© Legal Services Society, BC, 2015