Let’s Talk About The Litigation Process in Ontario:
A Step-By-Step Overview to Litigation in Ontario
We often picture legal disputes involving lawyers standing in a courtroom making arguments during a trial, however, there are many, many, steps which occur before heading to court. On that note, very few cases actually end up at trail, with as few as 10% ended up going to trail. For this reason, while not as exciting as a trial, the steps leading up to a trial or the resolution of a lawsuit are no less important in solving legal disputes.
What is Civil Litigation?
The process through which a legal dispute is heard and settled is called litigation. In the coming weeks we will take a simplified, step-by-step approach to the various stages of the litigation process in Ontario. The goal is to create a simplified explanation of the process and procedures that occur in the lead-up to a trial. For this step-by-step we will be focusing on civil actions, which usually deal with contract disputes and/or torts (which are wrongful acts which result in injury or damage).
These blogs are intended to provide an easily accessible overview of the general steps in a civil action in Ontario. They also do not cover all potential procedures and events which can arise as a matter makes its way to trial. The steps in the civil litigation process we will cover over the next 6 weeks are:
– Step 1: Pleadings and Limitation Dates
– Step 2: Discovery
– Step 3: Motions and Summary Judgment
– Step 4: Pre-Trail
– Step 5: Trial
– Step 6: Judgment and Appeals
The Legal System in Ontario and the Players in a Civil Action
To set the stage for the coming weeks, we first need to talk about the court system. There are three types of law in Canada, Indigenous, Common, and Civil law. The Courts in Ontario operate under the common law, which is based on prior decisions (called precedents) from higher courts, which are binding on all lower-level courts within Ontario. Decisions from other courts in other provinces are not binding on decisions in Ontario, but can be used as a means to persuade an Ontario court on a question of law. Civil actions in Ontario are governed by common law precedents and legislation.
Our blog will focus on civil actions with the main players involved being the party initiating the claim, called the Plaintiff, and the party which they are suing, the Defendant. Each party is typically represented by a lawyer, or depending on the type of claim, a paralegal. With an understanding of terms, the courts, and the players involved in a civil action, next week we will dive into starting a civil action and the timelines which must be considered.
If you would like to discuss a potential civil action, our team of experienced litigators can help. Contact us online for a free legal consultation or call 705-526-1471 to speak directly with one of our lawyers.