This part deals with some of the difference conferences that may be allocated in the course of a High Court case.
First case management conference
Case management conferences are convened to address procedural matters necessary to ready a case for trial. Provisions for case management conference are set out in subpart 1 of part 7 of the High Court Rules. Rule 7.3 of the High Court Rules provides:
(3) The agenda for the conference is –
(a) the Schedule 5 matters; and
(b) the making of a discovery or other order under rule 8.5; and
(c) the hearing, and if practicable the disposal, of any outstanding interlocutory application; and
(d) the fixing of –
(i) a close of pleadings date; and
(ii) a hearing or trial date for a proceeding classified as an ordinary defended proceeding and the making of appropriate trial directions; and
(iii) a date and arrangements for any further case management, issues, or pre-trial conference; and
(e) other appropriate matters that have already been discussed by the parties.
(4) The parties must either file a joint memorandum addressing the Schedule 5 matters no later than 10 working days before the conference, or file separate memoranda addressing those matters in accordance with subclause (5).
(5) If separate memoranda are filed, the plaintiff or applicant must file the first memorandum stating that party’s position on the matters in Schedule 5. That memorandum must be filed 10 working days before the conference, followed no later than 5 working days before the conference by memoranda from the other parties, each memorandum stating the party’s agreement or disagreement with memoranda already filed, and, in the case of disagreement, the reasons for disagreement and the different position contended for.
(6) Memoranda filed under subclause (4) or (5) may also address matters that fall within subclause (3)(e).
(7) The joint memorandum referred to in subclause (4) may be combined with any joint memorandum filed in relation to discovery under rule 8.11.
(8) A separate memorandum referred to in subclause (5) may be combined with any separate memorandum filed in relation to discovery under rule 8.11.
First case management conference memorandum
Schedule 5 of the High Court Rules provides:
Note: The presiding Judge will expect the parties at the first case management conference to have –
(a) provided initial disclosure in accordance with rule 8.4:
(b) carefully considered the pleadings and the principal documents disclosed with them:
(c) discussed and endeavoured to agree on an appropriate discovery order and the manner in which inspection will take place, in accordance with rule 8.11:
(d) discussed and endeavoured to agree on the matters for consideration listed in this schedule:
(e) filed and served a joint memorandum or separate memoranda in accordance with rules 7.3 and 8.11.
1 Resolution and refinement of the issues, and as a consequence whether the pleadings require amendment.
2 Whether additional parties should be joined.
3 Whether this proceeding has been appropriately categorised and is either an ordinary defended proceeding or a complex defended proceeding.
Discovery and other interlocutory applications
4 The scope, terms, and timetable for any discovery.
5 If any interlocutory applications have been filed or will be filed, whether they can be heard and disposed of at the case management conference.
Readiness for trial
6 Is the case sufficiently ready for a fixture date to be allocated in the near future?
7 If there are still outstanding issues, whether a further case management conference or an issues conference should be timetabled.
Fixture or hearing
8 If the proceeding is ready to go for a hearing or a trial, –
(a) when should the close of pleadings date be?
(b) should there be a pre-trial conference?
(c) what is the estimated length of trial? (The Judge will estimate this by the number of witnesses and the estimate of duration of their testimony.)
(d) what timetable is required for written briefs?
(e) is expert evidence required and, if so, what are the proposals for that evidence (including prior exchange and how the witnesses are to be heard)?
(f) are any special resources or requirements needed for the hearing?
(g) can the proceeding be placed on a short-notice list or put down as a back-up fixture?
(h) is alternative dispute resolution suitable to try to facilitate settlement prior to trial?
(i) what is the categorisation of the proceeding in relation to costs?
9 Any other matters, provided that those matters have been discussed between the parties at least 5 working days before the conference.
First case management conference memorandum template
You can download a first case management conference memorandum template here.
Appearing in a first case management conference
Case management conferences are convened to address those procedural matters set out in rule 7.3 of the High Court Rules as quoted previously. Some arguments or issues may be able to be dealt with or ‘summarily dismissed’ at the conference, although an interlocutory application is normally required. See the parts of this text on appearing in court for how you might go about presenting yourself and addressing the court at a case management conference.
What to expect of a first case management conference
The Judge may make various orders in a case management conference in accordance with the High Court Rules:
1. for allocation of key dates such as close of pleadings and hearing under rule 7.6;
2. for a further case management conference under rule 7.4;
3. for an issues conference under rule 7.5;
4. for a pre-trial conference under rule 7.8; or
5. for discovery of documents under rule 8.5.
Issues conferences are provided for by rule 7.5 of the High Court Rules. They are convened in order to “advance the identification and refinement of the issues” involved in a case.
Rule 7.8 of the High Court Rules provides for pre-trial conferences:
(1) The Judge or Registrar may order a pre-trial conference for a proceeding that is being or has been allocated a hearing or trial date.
(2) Any matter may be considered at a pre-trial conference, including –
(a) whether background facts can be agreed to avoid hearing uncontested evidence:
(b) the size, contents, and format of the agreed bundle of documents:
(c) the amount of detail in any chronology of facts:
(d) whether it will be helpful to direct the provision of lists of enactments and cases likely to be referred to:
(e) whether any oral evidence direction should be made under rule 9.10.
(3) The Judge at a pre-trial conference may give directions to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of the proceeding, including directions as to how the hearing or trial is to be conducted.