Suing or Being Sued?

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October 17, 2017
Criminal Blog
November 16, 2017
Disputes involving money, property or rights to property are often resolved within the civil court system in Ontario.
For many persons, especially persons who are availing themselves of the civil litigation process for the first time; it can be very daunting.  Having knowledge about the process can help to ease the fear that comes with initiating a claim.
There are a number of steps in the civil litigation process. Below are eight (8) of those key steps:
  1. Determining Jurisdiction: If a person’s claim is for $25,000 or less, the action must be started in the Small Claims Court.  Claims for more than $25,000 should be started in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. 
  2. Exchange of Pleadings: Pleadings are documents filed with the courts by every party to the litigation.  The pleadings are a summary of each party’s position and facts applicable to the legal action and include the following:
  •  The Statement of Claim- this is issued by the Plaintiff.
  •  Statement of Defence which may be combined with a Counterclaim against the Plaintiff. The Defendant may also initiate a Crossclaim against the other Defendants or a Third Party Claim against new parties.
  • Reply- the Plaintiff may then respond to the Statement of Defence with a Reply.
  1. Discovery – This is a two stage process involving preparing an Affidavit of Documents which lists all of the documents in the possession, control or power of the party which are relevant to the issues in the legal proceeding. The second stage is Examinations for Discovery where each party appears before a court reporter and answer questions under oath.
  2. Answering Undertakings and Motions to Compel Answers- where a party being examined is unable to provide information right away or does not have a document that is requested, he/ she can agree to provide answer to a question or relevant documents after examination. This is called an “undertaking. If the answers and/or documents to the undertakings neither are nor provided within a reasonable time, the lawyer for the other party can bring a motion to a judge asking for an order requiring the other party to provide the necessary information.
  3. Motions- Either party may bring a motion to obtain a ruling from a judge on procedural or interim issues throughout the civil litigation process,
  4. Mandatory Mediation- For all actions started in Ottawa, Toronto or the County of Essex; parties are required to participate in a mediation session within 120 days of the first Statement of Defence being served.  This timeline may however be extended to facilitate the completion of other steps in the litigation process.
  5. Set the Matter Down for Trial and Pretrial Conference- The matter can be set down for trial after the above steps are completed. This is done by requesting that the matter be placed on the trial list.
  6. Trial- Parties may decide to settle a matter before reaching this stage. If the matter cannot be settled between parties, the matter can proceed to trial.
Civil cases are governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure ( , case law and statutes.

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