Posted On: July 25, 2011 by Paul Mark Sandler

The US versus Canada: a friendly competition

It’s the United States versus Canada – but it doesn’t involve hockey or other winter sports. Rather, it’s a friendly competition in the courtroom featuring trial lawyers from the United States representing the plaintiff in a wrongful termination case against a team of Canadian lawyers representing the defense.

The program is called “Trial Practices in Canada and the United States: A Comparison.” It will be held on August 4, as part of the American Bar Association’s annual meeting next month in Toronto, Canada. This particular event is being hosted by the Litigation Institute of Trial Training ( “LITT”), the organization I founded several years ago to help young trial lawyers hone their skills.

In the program, two judges will preside -- one from the United States and one from Canada. A jury will also be rendering a decision. In addition to gaining valuable courtroom exposure, trial lawyers will have the opportunity to learn the courtroom protocols of our neighbor to the North.

Following the “trial,” we will feature a panel discussion about the differences in the trial practices in the two countries. Though in many ways our systems are similar, the differences are fascinating. In Canada, for example, all matters in the federal courts are heard and determined without a jury. Though in some provinces civil jury trials are available, the court can “strike the jury” if it determines that the factual issues are unduly complex. Pretrial discovery is also more limited in Canada. In Ontario, for example, a party is limited to a total of seven hours of deposition regardless of the number of depositions the party undertakes. Also, in Canada, counsel under some circumstances may answer for the witness and non-parties may not be deposed, with limited exceptions.

If you would like to attend the LITT program in Toronto next month, or if you’d like any additional information about the LITT program in general, please contact the ABA.

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