How do I fill in a Pre-trial Checklist?

What is a Pre-trial Checklist?

A Pre-trial Checklist, also known as a Listing Questionnaire, is a Court form which the parties to a Fast Track or Multi Track claim are ordinarily required to complete following the expiry of the date upon which the last of the directions should have been complied with.  

The purpose of the Pre-trial Checklist is to enable the Court to ascertain whether the directions have been complied with, whether any further directions are needed and to enable the Court to gain a better understanding of what evidence is likely be put forward at the trial so as to ensure that an appropriate level of Court resources are available.

A Pre-trial Checklist is a standard Court form. Form N170 should be used, a copy of which can be obtained from the Court or found on the Court Service’s website.

Ordinarily a Pre-trial Checklist will be completed by a Solicitor acting on behalf of a party.

Preliminary matters

At the top left hand side of the form the name of the party upon whose behalf the Pre-trial Checklist is being completed should be stated and the status of the party should be confirmed by deleting the appropriate words.

At the top right hand side of the form the name of the Court in which the claim is proceeding should be stated as should the Claim Number. The last date for filing the Pre-trial Checklist and the trial date(s) or trial period (often referred to as the “trial window”) should be stated.

Part A

  • Part A of the Pre-trial Checklist deals with compliance with the directions which will have previously been given by the Court.

  • The party is required to confirm whether those directions have been complied with. If they have not then the party should state which directions have not been complied with and the date by which this will be done. 

  • The party is also required to confirm whether any additional directions are required. If a party believes that any additional directions are required they should attach an Application Notice a draft Order and the appropriate Court fee to the Pre-trial Checklist. Parties are encouraged to agree any additional directions and for this reason if any additional directions are required the party should confirm whether or not these have been agreed with the other party or parties.

Part B

  • Part B of the Pre-trial Checklist deals with witnesses.

  • The party completing the Pre-trial Checklist is required to state how many witnesses will be giving evidence on their behalf at the trial.

  • If the trial date has not been fixed, the parties have the opportunity to ask the Court to avoid, where possible, certain dates. If a party or one of his witnesses is unable to attend Court on a certain date then the name of the party who is unable to attend should be stated as should the reason why they are unable to attend Court. The fact that a party has asked the Court to avoid a particular date does not mean that it will do so. For this reason every effort should be taken to ensure that the party and his witnesses are available to attend. In some instances it may be considered wise to serve a Witness Summons on a witness compelling them to attend Court. 

  • If the party or any of his witnesses require special facilities or arrangements at the Court, for example because they are disabled, the special facilities or arrangements should be specified. The party should also confirm whether he will be providing an interpreter for any of his witnesses.

Part C

  • Part C of the Pre-trial Checklist deals with experts. Expert evidence may be required where the case involves specialist knowledge, for example the expert evidence of a doctor may be required in a personal injury claim or the expert evidence of a surveyor in a construction claim. 

  • If a party wishes to rely on expert evidence or call an expert to give oral evidence at trial permission from the Court must be obtained by making an application to the Court.

  • Where expert evidence is relied upon the party is required to set out the name of the expert, his field of expertise, confirm whether or not he is a joint expert (an expert jointly instructed by all parties to the claim), whether or not his report has been agreed with the other party or parties and whether or not permission has been given for him to give oral evidence at the trial. 

  • The party is required to confirm whether there has been discussion between experts and whether the experts have signed a joint statement. This will only be relevant where each party has obtained their own expert evidence. 

  • Where an expert is to give oral evidence, if the trial date has not been fixed, the parties have the opportunity to ask the Court to avoid, where possible, certain dates upon which their expert is unable to attend Court. If a party wishes to avoid a certain date the name of the expert should be stated as should the reason why they are unable to attend Court. The fact that a party has asked the Court to avoid a particular date does not mean that it will do so. For this reason where an expert is to give oral evidence every effort should be taken to ensure that the expert is available to attend Court. In appropriate cases it is often wise to serve a Witness Summons on the expert.

Part D

  • Part D of the Pre-trial Checklist deals with legal representation.

  • The party completing the Pre-trial Checklist is required to confirm whether his case will be presented at trial by himself, his solicitor or a barrister (Counsel). 

  • If the trial date has not been fixed, the parties have the opportunity to ask the Court to avoid, where possible, certain dates upon which the person who is to represent their case is unable to attend Court. If a party wishes to avoid a certain date the name of the person who is to represent their case should be stated as should the reason why they are unable to attend Court on a particular day.

Part E

  • Part E of the Pre-trial Checklist deals with the trial itself. 

  • The party completing the Pre-trial Checklist is required to confirm whether the estimate of the time needed for trial has changed. By this stage an Order would have been made by the Court in which a time estimate was stated. If the time estimate has changed the party is required to provide a revised time estimate and confirm whether or not this revised time estimate has been agreed with the other party or parties.

  • In the case of Multi Track cases only, each party is required to attach to the Pre-Trial Checklist a “Timetable for Trial”. This is a document which sets out how long each element of the trial (for example, opening and closing speeches and the cross examination of witnesses and experts) is likely to take. At part E they are required to state whether the Timetable for Trial has been agreed with the other party or parties. 

  • In relation to Fast Track cases the party is required to confirm whether they are prepared to accept less than 3 weeks notice of the trial date.

Part F

  • Part F of the Pre-trial Checklist consists of a document and fee checklist. The party is required to indicate which documents he is attaching to the Pre-trial Checklist and whether he is attaching a Listing Fee.  

  • Where the party has legal representation his legal representative is required to attach an estimate of the party’s costs to date and an estimate of the party’s likely overall costs. There are specific and lengthy rules dealing with how these should be prepared. 

  • The Listing Fee is payable by the Claimant.

Final matters

The Pre-trial Checklist should be signed by the party or his legal representative and dated. The contact details of the party, or his solicitor if he has one, should be set out. The Pre-trial Checklist should then be sent to the Court in which the case is proceeding together with payment of the Listing Fee where required. 

There is no requirement that the parties exchange copies of their Pre-trial Checklists with each other. However, they are encouraged to do so to avoid the Court being given conflicting or incomplete information.