Case Conferences and Hearings


Case Conferences

Overview

The first step of the appeal process involves a case conference with both parties (the owner/custodian of the animal and a representative for the Ontario SPCA). The case conference is generally conducted by telephone and facilitated by a member of the ACRB.

Purpose

The case conference provides an opportunity for the facilitator to provide information about the appeal process, and for parties to discuss, clarify and narrow issues. In some cases it may allow the parties to settle or resolve the issues, without the need for a hearing.

If the parties are unable to resolve the issues, the facilitator takes steps to move the matter forward to hearing including setting the date and location for the hearing, and setting dates by which the parties must provide documents and other information to the other party and the ACRB.

Timelines

The ACRB will send a Notice of Case Conference to the parties within five business days from the date the ACRB received the Notice of Appeal or application.

The Notice of Case Conference will confirm the date, time and dial-in information for the Case Conference.

Case Conference Preparation

Parties should come to the case conference prepared to discuss settlement and attempt to resolve the issues in dispute. If the matter is not resolved at the case conference, then the facilitator will take steps to move the matter forward to a hearing. This may include discussing hearing dates and location, and setting dates by which the parties must provide documents, witness lists, etc.

A party or their representative must participate in the case conference.

Outcomes

Possible outcomes of a case conference include:

  • Matter is settled or resolved
  • Appeal is withdrawn
  • Case conference is adjourned or rescheduled
  • A hearing is scheduled and procedural directions or orders are made

Adjournments

You are expected to be prepared and ready to proceed on the date scheduled. If you cannot attend a scheduled case conference or hearing, you must notify the ACRB and the other party as soon as possible that you are requesting an adjournment.

The request must include:

  • The reason for the request;
  • Written agreement to the adjournment from the other party or their representatives, if the parties have agreed to the request; and
  • At least three alternative dates, within 30 days of the case conference date or hearing date to be adjourned, that are agreeable to all parties.

Adjournments are only granted on very specific and exceptional grounds (e.g., serious illness, parties are close to settling the matter, etc.). For more information on adjournments, please see the ACRB’s Rules of Practice.

Preparing for a Hearing

Evidence

If the matter goes forward to a hearing, the parties must prepare to present their case through evidence.

Evidence includes oral testimony, or any documents or things (e.g., photographs) that are relevant to the subject-matter of the hearing and support your position. The ACRB considers the evidence presented and applies the relevant provisions of the OSPCA Act to reach its decision.

Disclosure

You must copy the other party when corresponding with the ACRB regarding matters that relate to the appeal or hearing.

If you want the ACRB to consider any documents or other things at the hearing, you must provide them to the other party and to the ACRB.

The exchange of documents will also be discussed at the case conference. The facilitator will consider the position of both parties before setting dates by which you must disclose any documents or things that you intend to rely on at the hearing.

Witnesses

You may want a witness to attend the hearing to testify. At the case conference, the facilitator will discuss matters relating to witnesses. You may be asked to provide a list of witnesses who you may call to give evidence at the hearing, and a brief description of each witness’ expected testimony.

If your witness does not want to attend the hearing, you may request a summons from the ACRB that, if served properly, would require the witness to attend the hearing.

To request a summons, you must complete the Summons to a Witness form and submit it to the ACRB for approval. The Summons to a Witness form can be found here.

Service of a summons and payment of attendance money is the responsibility of the party that obtained the summons. Attendance money is to be calculated in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Superior Court of Justice.

Hearings

Hearing Date, Format and Location

A hearing is only held if the parties are unable to resolve the matter at the case conference.

The hearing dates are set by the case conference facilitator in consultation with the parties.

Hearings can be conducted in writing, by teleconference, in-person or by any combination of these formats. The hearing format is determined on a case-by-case basis by the facilitator at the case conference with input from the parties.

If the appellant resides within a reasonable distance of the Greater Toronto Area, the ACRB will hold an in-person hearing at the ACRB’s hearing rooms in downtown Toronto. Hearings may also be scheduled at other locations when the parties live at some distance from the Toronto area. The facilitator will discuss the location of an in-person hearing during a case conference.

The Hearing Process

Appeals are heard by a panel of one or more ACRB members.

At a hearing, each party gets a chance to present their case. The ACRB may ask each party to begin with an opening statement to summarize their position. A party presents their evidence by referring to documents or exhibits and calling their witnesses to testify.

When a witness is called to testify, they are asked questions by the person who called the witness. After the examination of the witness, the other party has the chance to cross-examine the witness by asking them more questions.

After all evidence has been presented and all witnesses have testified, the ACRB hearing panel will ask each party (or their representative) to make closing submissions, which is a summary of each party’s argument about why the appeal should be granted or dismissed.

The hearing panel may make some closing comments and then the hearing will be finished.