Steps in a Lawsuit: Trial Management Conference

A trial management conference (TMC) is required in practically all Supreme Court civil lawsuits. A TMC is a hearing before a master or judge to ensure that the parties are ready to proceed to trial as scheduled.

Before a TMC occurs, each party must file and serve a trial brief. A trial brief summarizes the matters at issue in the lawsuit and the filing party’s position on them. Importantly, the trial brief lists the witnesses the filing party intends to call at trial. For each witness, the party must provide their address, the issue about which they will be testifying, and the anticipated length of their testimony. If a party intends to call a person to testify at trial, they generally have to be listed in that party’s trial brief. If not, the trial judge may prevent a proposed witness from testifying. Trial briefs also set out any expert reports the party intends to tender at trial, any orders already made that will affect the trial, and any orders the party intends to ask for at the TMC.

While parties do not have to attend TMCs in person if they are represented by a lawyer, they do need to be available by telephone. This is because, at a TMC, the preside master or judge can be asked to facilitate settlement discussions. However, this rarely happens.