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Old 06-04-2011, 06:13 AM
Mess Mess is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Toronto
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TO: The Self Represented Applicant or Respondent
[1] As a self-represented party, you must present your own case at trial. The purpose of this Memorandum is to set out some practical and procedural matters with respect to the trial process in order to assist you in representing yourself.
[2] In providing you with this Memorandum, the court does not assume any responsibility to provide you with legal advice. Similarly, the judge who will be conducting your trial will not be able to give you legal advice. The judge must not only remain impartial, but must also be seen by all of the other parties to be impartial.
[3] This Memorandum cannot possibly cover all the things you need to know about conducting a trial, nor can it begin to replace the advice and assistance that would be available to you if you had legal counsel. Accordingly, you are urged to obtain legal information and legal advice to the extent you are able.
[4] Although these comments are given to assist you in complying with the procedural and evidentiary requirements of the trial, you are fully responsible for the presentation of your case to the court. You cannot relieve yourself of this responsibility by simply relying on these comments or by relying on the fact that you are not represented by counsel.
[5] If you have questions at any time, you should let the trial judge know.
[6] All references in this memo to Rules are references to the Family Law Rules. Similarly, references to Forms, are Forms referred to in the Family Law Rules. Both the Forms and the Rules are available on the Ontario Superior Court Website:
Burden of Proof
[7] If you are the applicant, the burden of proof will be on you to prove the claims in your Application. If you are the respondent, the burden of proof will be on you to prove any claims in your Answer. All claims must be proven on a balance of probability, i.e. greater than 50%.
Exclusion of Witnesses
[8] When the trial begins, if you or the opposing party asks the trial judge for an order excluding witnesses, the judge will likely grant the order. In that case, except for you and the opposing party, all other witnesses will be asked to stay outside the courtroom until they are called to give their evidence. This is done in order to ensure, as much as possible, that a witness does not change his or her testimony in response to hearing the testimony of some other witness.
[9] If such an order is made, you must not discuss any of the evidence given at the trial with any of your witnesses before they are called to testify. You must also ensure that your witnesses are aware of the order and do not discuss their evidence with anyone until after the trial is over.
Opening Statements
[10] At the start of the trial, the applicant is entitled to make an opening statement outlining the background to the applicant's claims against the respondent and a summary of the evidence that the applicant intends to call.
[11] After the opening statement of the applicant, the respondent may also make an opening statement, outlining the defence to the applicant's claims, the background to any claims being made against the applicant and a summary of the evidence that the respondent intends to call. A respondent may choose to wait to make an opening statement until after the close of the applicant's case.
[12] You are not required to make an opening statement. The choice of whether to make an opening statement will be solely up to you.
[13] You must not interrupt the other party's opening statement even if you disagree with parts of it.
[14] What is said in the opening statements is not evidence. If what you say in your opening statement is not borne out by the evidence that is subsequently presented, or is contradicted by that evidence, then what you said in your opening statement will be ignored by the trial judge. The sole purpose of an opening statement is to enable the trial judge to better follow the evidence as it is called.