How do you prepare a Civil claim for Trial?
Once a Civil claim or case has been set down or prepared for trial, the Court will arrange for and conduct a pre-trial conference to find out the status of the case and schedule the date(s) of the trial.
When attending the pre-trial conference, you should come prepared to take trial dates and to inform the Judge of the number of witnesses you would like to call and the estimated number of days the trial will take. As such you should check with your witnesses to make sure they are available.
The trial will generally be fixed within 28 days from the date of the pre-trial conference. If you or any of your witnesses cannot speak English, you must inform the Judge at the pre-trial conference.
You must make sure that all your witnesses will attend the trial. If you’re not sure whether the witness will attend,
you should apply for a Court order (called a subpoena) to force him to attend his attendance. Once a subpoena is issued to a person, he must attend court on the stipulated date and time. If he fails to attend court, he will be guilty of contempt of court and may then be punished with a fine or imprisonment.
Parties must submit Trial Documents at least 5 days before the start of the trial, including:
- Affidavits of evidence-in-chief and Bundle of documents – An affidavit is a document that contains facts that you swear under oath or affirm are true. In Civil cases, you can use an affidavit instead of giving evidence to the judge as a witness. Each person must submit to Court the originals of the affidavit of evidence-in-chief of all the witnesses and a bundle of the main documents that will be used or referred to at the trial by any person. As far as possible, a common bundle of core documents should be agreed on between the parties and filed by the Plaintiff.
- Opening statement – Opening statements are required in all cases except where the trial Judge has dispensed with the requirement and in motor vehicle running down actions. The opening statement should state the person’s
case in a nutshell, both on the facts and law.
- Bundle of authorities – To improve the conduct of civil proceedings and reduce the time taken in the presentation of cases in Court, parties are also required to prepare a bundle of legal authorities that should accompany the opening statement. Legal authorities include cases, statutes, subsidiary legislation and any other reference materials that a person seeks to rely upon. Besides submitting the above documents to Court, the documents should also be served on the other person. The detailed contents and format for the submission of the above documents can be found in the State Courts
So there you have it, some basic information on how to prepare a civil claim for trial.