Preparing for a hearing

When does the Board hold a hearing?

  • The Board decides most cases based on the written documents and materials filed by the parties. The Board may hold a hearing when it has questions for the parties that cannot be answered in writing and when it needs to talk to the parties directly. This is sometimes the case when there are difficult issues or many parties.
  • The Board may also hold a hearing when a matter is urgent and there is not enough time for it to gather more information from the parties in writing.
  • The Board will also hold a hearing if a party has a disability that cannot be accommodated in any other way.

Can I ask the Board to hold a hearing, and if I do, will the Board schedule one?

  • The Board decides whether there will be a hearing. You can ask the Board to hold a hearing, but this does not mean that it will do so.  
  • You should include your request for a hearing in your complaint or application form, or in your response if you are the respondent. You should explain to the Board why you think a hearing is necessary. 
  • If you have a disability and require accommodation at the hearing, you should tell the Board. 
  • If you will require interpretation services during the hearing, you should tell the Board.

Will the hearing be in person or by videoconference?

The Board’s hearings will be held by videoconference unless the Board decides otherwise. 
Parties who would prefer an in-person hearing should request one from the Board. 

In making its decision, the Board will consider factors such as:  

  • fairness to the parties; 
  • accessibility requirements; 
  • availability of technology; 
  • technical abilities of the parties; 
  • the issues raised in the complaint or application;
  • the cost and the time required of the Board and the parties, considering the issues raised; and
  • health and safety requirements.   

The Board can also direct that a hearing be held in person without a request from the parties.

The Board will continue to decide a significant number of cases based only on the written evidence and arguments of the parties.

What if I don’t have a computer or don’t know how to use Zoom?

  • If you don’t have the equipment or skills to participate in a Zoom hearing, you need to let the Board know. The Board may decide to hold an in-person hearing, or it may find a location where you can participate in the videoconference hearing with assistance. 

Notice of Hearing

What if I can’t attend the hearing?

  • You will first need to ask the other parties if they agree to reschedule the hearing. If so, find out what other dates everyone is available. 
  • Write to the Board and ask for a postponement. In your request, include:
    • the reason why you need to postpone the hearing;
    • whether the other parties agree or not; and
    • a list of dates on which all parties are available. 
  • Remember to send a copy of your letter to the other parties.
  • Parties who do not agree to a postponement should write to the Board as well (with copies to the other parties). 
  • Communications with the Board can be made by using the Board’s E-Filing Web Portal
  • It can be difficult to find days that are convenient for all parties, so the Board may decide not to reschedule the hearing unless there is a good reason, even if all parties agree. This is particularly true if you had already told the Board that you would be available on the original dates. 

Do I need to file anything with the Board before the hearing?

The Board may ask you to file a Book of Documents, a List of Authorities, and/or a witness list, as discussed during the Case Management Conference.

Book of Documents

  • The Book of Documents contains all the documents that you are going to refer to during the hearing to prove your case. These could be documents like an employment agreement, a grievance response, or proof of income. 
  • The documents should be in order of date, earliest to latest. 
  • Books of Documents are filed electronically using the Board’s E-Filing Web Portal. You should have already filed these documents with your complaint, response or reply, so you would have already saved them as PDF files.
  • This video will show you how to put all the PDF documents into an electronic book, tab them, number the pages and create a table of contents so that you can send it to the Board. 
  • You can find more instructions on how to do this on the Adobe webpage.

List of Authorities

  • The List of Authorities is a list of all the laws, regulations and case law (decisions of courts and tribunals) that you are going to use to argue your case. 
  • You can use the List of Authorities during the hearing to point the Board directly to the sections of the legislation and regulations, and to previous decisions, that support your arguments. This makes it easier for the Board to follow your arguments.
  • Acts and regulations that might be helpful:
  • The Helpful Links page contains links to other sources of laws and case law.
  • Case law that might be helpful:
    • Decisions of the Canada Industrial Relations Board: decisions with similar facts or issues to yours, where the Board’s decision is favourable to your position. Board decisions can be found on the Decisions page.
    • Decisions of the Federal Court of Appeal: decisions made by the Federal Court of Appeal after reviewing Board decisions. The Federal Court of Appeal hears Applications for Judicial Review of Board decisions. These decisions can be found on the Federal Court of Appeal website.
  • You should list the laws first, followed by the regulations, and then the case law. Under each item on the list, place a link to the website where the document can be found so the Board can easily access it during the hearing.

Witness List

  • The Board will need a list of the names, job titles, and contact information (email address and telephone number) of the persons that you will be calling as witnesses.
  • For each witness, include a short description of what they will say. This will help the hearing go smoothly. 

How do I file my hearing documents?

  • You must use the Board’s E-Filing Web Portal, which allows documents to be filed in the Board’s centralized document filing system. When using the E-Filing Web Portal, you do not have to send a paper copy of the same document to the Board. The electronic version will be considered the original copy.
  • All parties must deliver to all other parties a copy of any document that they file with the Board. This can be done by email, mail, registered mail, courier, or in person. 
  • When you file documents with the Board, you must tell the Board how and when you sent those documents to the other parties. 
  • If you need assistance, you can contact 1800-575-9696. 

How do I get witnesses to show up at the hearing?

  • You can simply give your witnesses the date, time and location of the hearing and ask them to appear. However, if they don’t appear, the Board may proceed with the hearing anyway. You will want to be sure that your witnesses will show up if you use this method.
  • You can ask the Board to issue a Summons to the witness. This is an official request from the Board to testify at the hearing. The Board will prepare the Summons letter and send it by email to you, not to the witness. You are responsible for sending the Summons to the witness. 
  • The witness must receive the Summons no later than 5 calendar days before the hearing.
  • The witnesses who have received a Summons are entitled to be paid a witness fee and expenses by the party who asked them to attend. 
  • If the hearing is held by videoconference, the parties are responsible for providing the conference link to their witnesses.     
  • For more information on how to prepare a Summons, please visit the Summons page.

What if I need language interpretation?

  • The Board can organize simultaneous interpretation in many languages for persons who need it, not just English and French. 
  • The Board pays for the cost of the interpretation.
  • Interpretation services can be arranged for mediations, Case Management Conferences and hearings. 
  • It is important that you let the Board know if you require interpretation services. 
  • Advise the Board as early as possible to avoid any delays in the process.