It is very important that you attend the hearing in order to present your evidence and your point of view to the Tribunal. If you do not attend the hearing, the Tribunal may be able to proceed in your absence.
Location of the Hearing
The Tribunal typically holds hearings at the Federal Court in Fredericton or at another location in the City of Saint John, New Brunswick.
It is possible to request that a hearing be held in another location. In assessing whether to request a change in location of the hearing, you can consider the following:
- the places where the parties and witnesses live and work;
- the length of time for which witnesses may be required at the hearing;
- the need to have the hearing close to the worksite, so that witnesses may return to work after testifying;
- the subject matter of the proceeding – for example, does the proceeding involve a group or individuals;
- the evidence required, such as the requirement of a site visit during the hearing; and
- the time frame, where a hearing may be held at an earlier date, if the parties do not have to spend time travelling.
If you want to request a change in location, please file a motion. For more information, please consult Motion. For an example of how to change the location of the hearing, please see the Tribunal’s decision in Estate A.B.C. v. Respondent 1 and the Superintendent of Pensions, 2015 NBFCST 3.
Hearing Room Protocol
The dignity of the hearing room is to be respected and maintained at all times; disruptive or disrespectful conduct will not be tolerated.The Tribunal expects parties and lawyers to be respectful of each other, which includes not interrupting each other.
You may use a laptop or tablet to consult documents, however it is not permitted to record the hearing.
The following conduct must be respected in the hearing:
- Food is not permitted in the hearing room.
- All cell phones or other electronic devices must be turned off or placed on silent mode.
- It is not permitted to record the hearing.
- Talking by observers is not permitted during the hearing.
- Observers are expected to remain as quiet as possible in the area immediately outside of the hearing room to avoid disrupting the proceedings.
- Refrain from approaching or speaking with any participants to the hearing.
- Refrain from wearing scents.
- Repeated entrances to or departures from the hearing room are to be avoided.
Improper hearing room behavior may result in removal from the hearing room or other sanctions (or penalties).
Hearings Open to the Public
Hearings are usually open to the public and the media.
If you are concerned about your privacy or the privacy of your witnesses, you can request a private hearing that is closed to the public by filing a motion. You must prove to the Tribunal that public security or the possibility of serious prejudice, injustice or hardship to a person outweighs the desirability of having the hearing open to the public. For more information on filing a motion, see Motion.
How the Hearing Unfolds
A hearing is normally held before a Tribunal panel composed of three members, although some hearings can occur before a smaller panel. The Tribunal members hear the evidence and decide the matter. You may address the panel as “Mr.” or “Mrs.”
Cases before the Tribunal usually follow the outline set out below.
|Presentation of the Tribunal Members |
| ||The Tribunal members enter the hearing room and the present themselves. The chair of the hearing will make opening remarks.|
| ||The Tribunal panel will ask the parties whether there are any preliminary matters. Preliminary matters are issues that need to be addressed and considered before the hearing can continue. Some examples include challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the absence of a party, and requests for adjournments.|
|Opening Statements |
| ||The Tribunal panel will decide whether to permit opening statements. The opening statement is your opportunity to present a brief summary of the facts you intend to prove and the conclusion you believe the Tribunal panel should draw from those facts. If they are permitted, the appellant will make its statement first, followed by those of the respondent.|
|Presentation of the Evidence (if any in addition to the Record)|
If the Record contains all the evidence required for the appeal, you will not have to present any additional evidence nor bring any witnesses to testify. If, however, the Record does not contain all the evidence, you may present additional documents or bring witnesses to testify.
Presentation of Documents
If additional documents are presented, the Tribunal will address each party's list of documents when it is their turn to present their evidence. The Tribunal will decide if each document is relevant to the matter and whether there exist other legal reasons why the document cannot be admitted into evidence. Only the documents entered into evidence will be considered in determining the outcome of the proceeding.
If the Record does not contain all the evidence necessary for the appeal, you may bring witnesses to testify at the hearing.
The direct examination is when the witness or party provides testimony during the hearing. If you call a witness, you (or your lawyer) will ask the witness questions.
If you choose to testify at the hearing and have a lawyer, your lawyer will ask you questions and you will answer these questions. If you do not have a lawyer, you can testify by telling your version of the events.
If you or your witnesses testify, the other party (or the party's lawyer) can question you or your witnesses; this is called cross-examination.
After the cross-examination, follow-up questions resulting from the cross-examination can be asked of the witness or party who testified. If you testify and do not have a lawyer, you can provide further information after the cross-examination as a result of the questions you were asked during the cross-examination; this is called the re-direct.
|Closing Arguments |
After all of the parties have presented their evidence, it is time to present the closing arguments. The closing argument is your opportunity to tell the Tribunal panel your position regarding the allegations and to indicate which evidence supports your position.
If the hearing has been long or complicated, you can ask for an adjournment to review the evidence and prepare your closing argument. Sometimes, the Tribunal panel will direct the parties to present closing arguments in writing. Typically, however, closing arguments are presented orally at the end of the hearing.
|Final Words from the Tribunal |
| ||At the end of the hearing, the chair will indicate whether the decision will be given that day or sent to the parties at a later date.|
What Happens After the Hearing
At the end of the hearing, the parties will typically be instructed to leave. The Tribunal will typically deliberate and write the Decision. Receiving your decision can take between one month and several months. The Registrar will send you the Decision.
After you receive the Decision, you should carefully review it. If you do not agree with the Decision, you can appeal or seek judicial review of a final decision. The deadline to appeal a decision of the Tribunal is 30 days from the issuance of the decision or the reasons for the decision. For more information, see Appeal and Judicial Review of Decisions of the Tribunal.