My case is going to a hearing at the HRTO. How do I prepare?

5. Write opening and closing statements

At the beginning of your hearing you get the chance to tell the Tribunal member about the important facts in the case and about the evidence you will use. This is called an opening statement.

At the end of your hearing, you get another chance to talk to the member about the case. This is called a closing statement.

Opening statement

Your opening statement is a brief description of your case to get the member ready for the first witness. It helps the member to understand the main issues and evidence. It's like giving a road map of where you think the hearing will go.

You're not allowed to try to convince the Tribunal member of anything during your opening. If you do this, the member may stop you or the Respondent may ask the member to stop you. You try to convince the member at the end of the hearing during your closing statement.

An opening should only be a few minutes long. You can write your statement in advance and read it out loud at the hearing. You should practice reading it before the hearing so the Tribunal member can see that you're prepared.

Once you finish your opening statement, the Respondent gets a chance to make their opening statement. But the Respondent can also wait until all of your witnesses have finished before they make their opening statement.

Closing statement

Your closing statement happens after all witnesses testify. At this part of the hearing you try to convince the Tribunal member that the witnesses and evidence prove your case.

You can try to show why the Respondent's witnesses should not be trusted. To do this you can talk about how the Respondent's witnesses changed their stories, or about the things they couldn't remember. You can talk about things revealed during the hearing that suggest the witnesses are biased or lying.

If you think the Tribunal member has doubts about what your witnesses said, you can explain why your witnesses should be trusted.

You should also talk about how the evidence proves the losses you want money for.

The Tribunal member will often ask questions during your closing. They may interrupt you to ask questions.

When you are finished your closing statement, the Respondent has a chance to make their closing statement.

Case research

During your closing statements, you and the Respondent can both give examples of previous cases that are similar to yours. Generally, similar cases should be decided similarly. So if you can show the Tribunal member previous cases that are similar to yours, then the Tribunal member is more likely to decide your case similarly.

You have to give the Respondent and the Tribunal member copies of any previous cases you want to use.

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