Part VII: Fixing of Matters for Hearing
64. Waiting time for the hearing of matters65. Requesting a hearing date through the Electronic Filing Service66. Fixing of hearing dates67. Adjournment or vacation of trial dates and part-heard cases68. Adjournment or vacation of hearings other than trials
(1) The average waiting times between the filing of certain processes or other steps in the proceedings and the date for the hearing or pre-trial conference of the matter are set out in Appendix B of these Practice Directions. Solicitors are directed to take note of these waiting times as they must be ready to proceed at the end of the relevant period. The average waiting times in Appendix B do not apply to special date fixings.
(2) This paragraph shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings.
(1) When filing applications through the Electronic Filing Service, solicitors may be permitted to make a request for a preferred hearing date for the following classes of applications:
(a) interlocutory applications to be heard before Registrars;(b) bankruptcy applications; and(c) winding up applications.
(2) Solicitors should confer with all parties to the application before selecting a preferred hearing date. Counsel arguing the application for all parties should be available to attend the hearing on the date selected.
(3) In the event that it is not possible to confer with opposing counsel on a preferred hearing date, whether due to the nature or urgency of the application or otherwise, solicitors shall select a date where counsel arguing the application for the applicant will be available.
(1) To assist the Registrar at the fixing of hearing dates, solicitors should provide updated information as to the current status of the cause or matter, including the prospects of settlement and any other developments which are likely to affect the length of the trial. In order to facilitate a more realistic assessment of the time required for the hearing, they will also be required to inform the Registrar of the number of witnesses they intend to call, whether any witness will require interpretation services, the estimated amount of time required for each party to cross-examine all the opposing party’s witnesses and the estimated total length of hearing.
(2) Solicitors who attend the fixing should be fully acquainted with the cause or matter being fixed for hearing. They should preferably be the solicitor having conduct of the cause or matter.
(3) Solicitors must attend the fixing. It is not acceptable for their clerks to attend in their stead.
(4) The attention of solicitors is drawn to Order 34, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
It shall be the duty of all parties to an action entered in any list to furnish without delay to the Registrar all available information as to the action being or being likely to be settled, or affecting the estimated length of the trial, and, if the action is settled or withdrawn, to notify the Registrar of the fact without delay.[emphasis added]
(5) Further, parties are to note that any request for an early hearing date for any application, cause or matter is subject to the discretion and availability of the Court. In deciding when to fix an application, cause or matter for hearing or render its decision in any application, cause or matter, the Court is not obliged to give effect to any private agreement between parties on timelines and hearing dates.
(1) Where dates have been fixed for the trial of any cause or matter, any request for an adjournment or vacation of the trial dates shall be made to the Court by way of summons with a supporting affidavit, even in those cases where counsel for the other party or parties consent to the adjournment.
(2) Subject to any directions of the Court, when a case is adjourned, the Registrar shall assign such days as are available for the hearing of the case, and counsel will be expected to take the dates at short notice.
(3) In the event that the hearing of a case is not concluded within the number of days allotted, the Court may direct the hearing of the case to continue beyond the allotted time, rather than adjourning the case part-heard to another date. Counsel for parties in all cases should therefore be prepared to continue with the hearing of the matter notwithstanding the fact that the time originally allotted may have expired.
(1) Before solicitors make a Request through the Electronic Filing Service to the Court for an adjournment or vacation of any hearings other than trials, they should seek the consent of the other party or parties to the matter. Unilateral requests made without first seeking the consent or views of the other party or parties to the matter will not be entertained, except in the most exceptional circumstances.
(2) Subject to sub-paragraph (3) below, the Request electronic form should be filed through the Electronic Filing Service at least 2 working days before the hearing, setting out the reasons for the requested adjournment or vacation of hearings.
(3) Where an adjournment of any matter before the Court of Appeal or the Appellate Division is sought, the Request in electronic form should be ﬁled through the Electronic Filing Service as soon as practicable after the sitting in which the matter is scheduled to be heard has been assigned and notiﬁed to the parties. Where there is a delay in the making of the request, the reason or reasons for the delay must be provided with the request. Any request for an adjournment on account of counsel’s diaries will not readily be acceded to.
(4) If the consent of all other parties to the matter is obtained, a letter stating that all parties have consented to the requested adjournment or vacation of hearings may be attached to the Request electronic form. However, this does not mean that the Request will be granted as a matter of course. The Court will still evaluate the merits of the Request before making its decision.
(5) If the consent of one or more of the other parties is not obtained, the letter should set out the reasons for the other parties’ objections, or explain why the consent of one or more of the other parties cannot be obtained. Any relevant correspondence between the parties should also be attached to the Request electronic form. The Court will then evaluate the contents of the Request and the relevant correspondence before deciding whether the requested adjournment or vacation of hearings should be allowed.
(6) In any other case, solicitors on record for all parties must attend before the Court to make an application for an adjournment. See also paragraph 13 of these Practice Directions.