A scheduling conference is a meeting between parties with the assistance of court where they sort out areas of agreement and disagreement leaving contentious issues for actual hearing. A scheduling conference is provided for under Order 12 rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Rules which provides that court shall hold a scheduling conference to sort out points of agreement and disagreement, possibility of mediation, arbitration and any other form of settlement within seven days after the order of delivery of interrogatories and discovery have been made or within 28 days from the date of the last reply.

In Tommy Otto V Uganda Wildlife Authority HCCS No.208 of 2012, Court found that a scheduling conference does not in itself dispose of a suit but is a preliminary step towards the disposal.

There are several objectives of the scheduling conference which include;

  • Gives an opportunity for settling before the full time of the trial and costs are incurred
  • It expedites the disposition process since an agenda is set.
  • Improves the quality of trial through preparations
  • It allows easy management and control of the case.

The procedure is that;

  • parties introduce themselves through counsel
  • Court explains the purpose of the scheduling conference
  • Plaintiffs’ lawyer presents the plaintiffs case in brief
  • The defendants lawyer presents the defendants case in brief
  • Court establishes whether there have been efforts to settle/ Parties are given Opportunity to settle through ADR
  • Court guides in formulation of issues
  • Documents are exchanged and a scheduling memorandum is signed.

In practice, court may order the parties to file a joint scheduling memorandum instead of appearing and conducting a conference before a judge.