Civil Litigation Basics 2015

Course Date: March 2, 2015

Total: 9h 10min

DAY 1:  Analyzing the Case and Developing the File

Welcome and Introduction

The Honourable Madam Justice Carol-Jean Ross — Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver
Luciana P. Brasil — Branch MacMaster LLP, Vancouver

File Opening

A. Dealing with your Client

  • matter selection and rejection—the most important step of any file
  • cementing the relationship and creating achievable expectations
  • fee arrangements that work for you and the client

Art Vertlieb, QC — MacKenzie Fujisawa LLP, Vancouver

B. Creating and Managing a Litigation File

  • preliminary review and opinion
  • accepting instructions and educating the client
  • preparing an effective and useful chronology
  • smoking out your opponent’s case
  • crafting a winning theory of the case and brief of law
  • assembling an efficient and winning team—everyone has a place in the sun
  • managing good and bad news

Art Vertlieb, QC — MacKenzie Fujisawa LLP, Vancouver

Drafting Pleadings and Affidavits

A. Pleadings

  • overview of pleadings
  • do’s and don’ts of pleadings
  • matters which must be specifically plead

Diana L. Dorey — Dolden Wallace and Folick LLP, Vancouver

B. Affidavits

  • when to use an affidavit
  • basic substantive and procedural requirements
  • the do’s and don’ts of affidavit drafting

John Douglas Shields — Shields Harney, Vancouver

Networking Break

Chambers Applications

  • materials
  • presentations
  • authorities
  • short form and special leave applications
  • the do’s and don’ts of chambers practice

Master Shelagh Scarth — Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver


A. Discovery and E-Discovery

  • discovery of documents
  • document production and the scope of Rule 7-1
  • practical steps and procedures for preparing lists and organizing documents 
  • e-discovery issues and practice

Graham J. Underwood — Legal Services Branch, Ministry of Justice, Victoria

B. Examination for Discovery

  • preparing your client for discovery
  • preparing to examine the opposing side
  • effective techniques on examination for discovery
  • objections on discovery
  • concluding and adjourning the discovery

Lyle G. Harris, QC — Harris & Brun, Vancouver

Lunch (on your own)


  • settlement conferences and mediation
  • negotiation resolution for your client
  • practical tips for effective settlement advocacy

Colleen Cattell, QC — Fitzpatrick & Company, West Vancouver


  • how to recognize and protect documents protected by solicitor-client privilege and solicitor-brief privilege
  • how to make or defend an application for disclosure of documents over which privilege has been claimed

T. Mark Pontin — Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Vancouver

Networking Break

Professionalism and Practice Management

A. Dealing with Self-Represented Litigants

  • issues unique to SRLs
  • practice tips

Casey L. Leggett — Martin & Associates, Vancouver

B. Lawyers Insurance Fund (LIF)

  • what is LIF?
  • reporting requirements and duties of insureds
  • how to inform clients of a possible claim
  • early reporting—proactive management of claims
  • claim avoidance tips

Coran R.R. Cooper-Stephenson — Law Society of BC, Vancouver

C. Code of Professional Conduct

  • duties to your client
    • duty of confidence
    • duty of loyalty
  • duties to state and court
    • not to mislead (evidence and authorities)
    • preparation of affidavits
    • expert’s reports
  • duties to other lawyers
    • default proceedings
    • adjournment requests
    • communicating with the court
    • undertakings
  • dealing with self-represented litigants
    • issues unique to SRLs
    • practice tips

Lisa Martz — Gundmundseth Mickelson LLP, Vancouver
Joan M. Young — McMillan LLP, Vancouver

DAY 2:  Preparing For and Conducting the Trial

Organizing Your Evidence (Including Documents)

  • know your case, investigative fact finding, chronology, and theory of the case
  • relevance
  • admissibility
  • persuasiveness
  • order of witnesses
  • discovery evidence
  • books of documents
  • document agreements

Claire E. Hunter — Hunter Litigation Chambers, Vancouver

Preparing Direct and Cross-Examination of Witnesses

A. Direct Examination

  • preparation; what evidence can that person give that will help my case
  • documentary review
  • interview
  • minutes of evidence
  • preparing the witness to give evidence: the process, documents, and exhibits
  • conducting direct examination—keeping it simple
  • checklists

Luciana P. Brasil — Branch MacMaster LLP, Vancouver

B. Cross-Examination

  • is a cross-examination necessary?
  • what can you get from the witness that will help your case?
  • what evidence has the witness given that you want or need to challenge?
  • exposing liars versus blunting the sword
  • courtesy
  • the rule in Brown v. Dunn

Luciana P. Brasil — Branch MacMaster LLP, Vancouver

Networking Break

Opening and Argument

  • define the issues
  • summarize the evidence
  • apply the law
  • demonstrate the results you want

Kevin D. Loo — Nathanson, Schachter & Thompson LLP, Vancouver

Obtaining and Using Admissions (Including Using Examination for Discovery Evidence)

  • the notice to admit
  • reading in discovery evidence
  • documentary proof—the Evidence Act
  • using discovery evidence in cros-examination

Thomas R. Buri, QC — Buri, Overstall, Smithers 

Finding and Instructing Expert Witnesses

  • hHow to find an expert witness
  • ethical issues concerning preparation of reports and production of an expert’s file
  • maximizing the utility of your experts
  • cross-examination of experts

Howard A. Mickelson, QC — Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP, Vancouver

Networking Lunch

Litigation Practice: The View From the Bench

The Honourable Madam Justice Carol-Jean Ross — Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver

Trial and Case Management: New Rules and Strategies

  • what is trial and case management
  • the role of the judge
  • the role of counsel
  • making trial and case management work for you

Hunter Parsons — Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Vancouver

Summary Trials

  • what type of case is appropriate for a summary trial
  • organizing the evidence
  • tactical considerations

Thomas R. Buri, QC — Buri, Overstall, Smithers 

Networking Break

Wrapping it Up

  • preparing orders, judgments, and costs
  • settlement documentation and procedure
    • releases and covenants not to sue
  • the Health Care Costs Recovery Act
  • revisiting matters with the trial judge
  • the Public Guardian and Trustee and infant settlements
  • enforcement of judgments

Alex Sayn-Wittgenstein — Murphy Battista LLP, Vancouver
Matthew Van Nostrand — Guild Yule LLP, Vancouver

Advocacy Practice Panel

The Honourable Madam Justice Carol-Jean M. Ross — Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver
Howard A. Mickelson, QC — Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP, Vancouver
K. Michael Stephens — Hunter Litigation Chambers, Vancouver
Mark G. Underhill — Underhill Gage Litigation (as of March 1, 2015), Vancouver

Closing Remarks

The Honourable Madam Justice Carol-Jean Ross — Supreme Court of BC, Vancouver
Luciana P. Brasil — Branch MacMaster LLP, Vancouver