Perparing a Hearing or Trial Plan

From Riverview Legal Group


So you have filled out your application or your plaintiff's claim. All the mandatory mediation and or settlement conferences are done and now it is time for the final show. Your job as you know is to make your case to the adjudicator and claim your damages. This article is all about how to make your case in front of an adjudicator or judge in an effective way.

Prerequisite Skills Required

  • A firm understanding of the rules of procedure for the tribunal or court you are appearing before.
  • A firm understanding of the rules of evidence.
  • Strong legal research skills.
  • A strong understanding of the technical procedures for the trial/hearing process.

Things To Consider

Remember that the adjudicator is a human being, I know it sounds silly but it can be forgotten with disastrous consequences. People understand events based on a narrative or a story, there has to be a clear inciting event, in some cases a back story, a series of smaller events that eventually lead up to the climax. The climax in all litigation is always the start of the legal proceedings. The adjudicator has to understand how you got to where you are to help them decide on your future. The end of the story will be ultimately written by the adjudicator or judge. It is your job as a party or advocates to explain your story in such a way that the adjudicator will complete the story the way you are hoping for.

Elements of a Hearing or Trial

The story or narrative that you wish to express to the adjudicator will be entered into the record through the technical process below. The technical procedure and the rules of conduct for a hearing are important to understand but are not the primary focus of this article. The focus of this article is to help the reader understand how to structure a plan to make sure that the adjudicator understands the case you wish to make.

Technicial Procedure and Structure of a Hearing

  • Opening Statement by Applicant
  • Opening Statement by Respondant
  • Examination of Applicant's Witnesses by Applicant
  • Cross-Examination of Applicant's Witnesses by Respondent
  • Re-Examination of Applicant's Witnesses by Applicant (Limited)
  • Examination of Respondent's Witnesses by Respondent
  • Cross-Examination of Respondent's Witnesses by Applicant
  • Re-Examination of Respondent's Witnesses by Respondent (Limited)
  • Submissions by Applicant
  • Submissions by Respondent
  • Final Submissions by Applicant

Prerequisites for Building a Trial Plan

  • A detailed timeline of events
  • Book of Documents with an index
  • A clear cause of action
  • A clear statement of remedies sought

Building a Case

The opening statement is where you lay out the framework for your case, this is where you tell the adjudicators the coles notes version of the story. This case is about ....a contractor who did work and did not get paid... or .... a landlord who neglected their property maintenance .... or some other cause of action. The point is, this is where the adjudicator will hear for the first time what you are asking them to listen for.

Framing the Issues

"...It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it..."

Framing is a concept whereby the writer or speaker defines not only the issues or subject matter of the matters to be discussed but most importantly how those matters will be discussed. In the practice of law, framing usually involves defining an issue based on a legal theory that defines a given cause of action.

Where both sides of a dispute are represented by strong legal representatives the opposing side will often present a counter-narrative, an alternative theory that an adjudicator can choose to understand and interpret the events and facts of the case.