Pre-Trial Conference

The Provincial Court of Alberta Pre-Trial Conference
What is a Pre-Trial Conference?
The Pre-Trial Conference is an informal, off the record step vital to your litigation.  It is intended to assist each of the parties to clarify issues, review facts and help identify those facts that are not in dispute.  For that reason, you must have your exhibits for the Pre-Trial Conference.  This procedure narrows the factual and legal issues and ensures the trial is properly focused.

The Pre-Trial Conference also affirms the need for each party to have present all necessary witnesses, documents, photos and/or other material on the day of trial.  In addition, the Pre-Trial Conference will assist the parties to appreciate what may be expected of them, so that they are better prepared to present their side of the dispute to the trial judge.  The trial judge will render his judgment after weighing and assessing the evidence presented, taking into account any current law.
Who should attend the Pre-Trial Conference?
The parties: The individuals named as Plaintiff(s) and Defendant(s) on the Civil Claim form must attend the Pre-Trial Conference.  When a corporation is a named party, its appointed corporate representative(s) must attend the Pre-Trial Conference.

It is essential that each party participate and that you have with you all pertinent exhibits such as documents and photos that you will be relying on to support your position, as well as providing a copy of the same for the other party prior to the Pre-Trial Conference.

The lawyers and agents: It is best that counsel and agents are present with their respective parties.  In some jurisdictions it may be mandatory.
What are the benefits of a Pre-Trial Conference?
The Pre-Trial judge (who will not be the trial judge) will assist the parties consider whether or not a resolution of your differences are possible.  In this process the Pre-Trial judge may express an opinion with respect to what he has heard, (which view is not binding on either party) but it shall not be disclosed to the trial judge.  The discussions between each of you and the Pre-Trial judge are without prejudice and absolutely off the record and shall not be made known to the trial judge.  The decision of whether you, the parties, wish to settle your differences is solely the decision of each of you and no one else.  Similarly, the decision not to resolve the dispute and proceed to trial also is your decision.  For these reasons, should the parties proceed to trial, they cannot raise these settlement discussions or negotiations before the trial judge and he or she shall not be made aware of them.  Should the parties decide at this proceeding or any time prior to trial, that they are going to resolve this claim, they are free to do so and the settlement will be recorded on the court record.
Is information from the Pre-Trial made available to the trial judge?
The only information from the Pre-Trial Conference that is made available to the trial judge by the Pre-Trial Judge will be of a trial readiness nature (as described below) and set out in the Pre-Trial judge’s notes: Names of the parties and counsel or agent (if any).
Name of the Pre-Trial judge.
Date of the Pre-Trial.
Nature of the claim (area of law, i.e. contract, negligence, etc.) Any amendments (additions or deletions) to the pleadings. Agreed facts (if any).
Other facts on background (if any). Including all exhibits so that they may be pre-marked (for the trial) at the Pre-Trial Conference. Issues to be determined by the trial judge.
Any Pre-Trial orders. For example, production of documents and exchange of the same.
Trial information such as names and locations of witnesses for each party; estimate of amount of trial time necessary; and special requirements of parties.
Special directions to trial judge (such as areas of law likely needed to prepare for).
What happens if the parties do not attend the Pre-Trial Conference?
Attendance at a scheduled Pre-Trial Conference is mandatory.

Failure to attend a scheduled Pre-Trial Conference without a reasonable excuse may result in the absent party: Being ordered to pay costs to the other party. Being unable to take further proceedings in the action, and/or Having their Claim or Dispute Note struck out, entitling the other party to apply for a judgment without trial.

If you believe there is a good reason not to mediate and wish to make an application to a Judge for exemption, you must do so promptly.

The above-captioned information is based on the most recent literature provided by the Alberta Provincial Court.