Conduct of the Hearing
Parties and their witnesses are entitled to tell their story without interruption by other parties. Be respectful of the right of others to tell their story without interruption. You will have an equal opportunity to tell your story without interruption. Parties and witnesses who are disrespectful and interrupt may make an unfavourable impression on the hearing officer and may damage their credibility. Bring a pen and paper and make lots of notes of the evidence. You will have your turn to ask questions and present evidence to respond to all evidence provided by the other parties and witnesses.
Hearing Officers have wide discretion to conduct the hearing in an efficient manner and to hear the evidence in a way that enables them to understand the stories of both parties. Generally, the applicant tells his or her story first. After they have told their story, the respondent may ask questions to clarify the story, or to bring out more of the story, but this is not yet the time for the respondent to provide their evidence. The applicant then calls any witnesses to provide additional evidence. The respondent will have an opportunity to ask questions of each witness to clarify the story or provide additional information. Only after the applicant and his or her witnesses have given all of their evidence, does it become the respondent’s turn to provide their evidence. The respondent then tells their story and calls witnesses without interruption in a similar manner to the applicant. The applicant may similarly ask questions of the respondent and his or her witnesses.
Keep your presentation relevant to the claims raised the Notice of Hearing. Rambling and irrelevant evidence is likely to make an unfavourable impression. The hearing officer may give direction as to what is relevant, if necessary.
Keep in mind that your opportunity to question witness is not the time for making statements or giving evidence on your own. This will come when you are called upon to do so.
The hearing is your only opportunity to tell your story and present evidence. Write out your story or make a list of important points so you don’t overlook them under the pressure of the hearing. Make a list of possible questions you might wish to ask the other party or their witnesses to bring out the whole story. The hearing officer may also ask questions to make sure that they understand everything clearly. Hearing officers are aware that parties are often not experienced with hearings and will take care to make sure that the process is fair.
Once both sides have finished their evidence, each party may be called upon to summarize the evidence presented and argue what the hearing officer should find as the facts of what happened. The parties can suggest what provisions of law apply and suggest what order the hearing officer should make. Before the hearing, you may want to make a list of key facts and legal points that you wish to cover during argument.