Step 1- Limitation Dates and Pleadings: Where to Start and What to Say
This week we will be discussing the initiation of a civil action, focusing on the deadlines for beginning a claim and the presentation of arguments.
Timelines and deadlines are extremely important when starting a civil action. Depending on the issue, there are limitation dates (deadlines) that must be adhered to with bringing a civil action. There is no fixed limitation date for all issues, however, provincial legislation outlines limitation dates for certain types of civil actions. With contract and torts, the most common limitation date is two years from the day the person discovered they had suffered a loss. For example, if someone is injured in a car accident, they have two years from the day of the accident to begin a lawsuit.
Once you are aware of a potential claim, acting on it before the limitation date is crucial to preserving your rights, as failing to initiate a claim within the limitation period can result in the court refusing to hear the case, regardless of its merits. For this reason, once you are aware of a claim, the next step is to initiate litigation, which begins with pleadings. Pleadings are the phase where legal arguments are defined and exchanged by the parties. In civil actions pleadings are commenced by a statement of claim, outlining the facts which the Plaintiff asserts makes out a case against the Defendant. The statement of claim must be filed with the court before the expiration of the limitation date, and must then be served (delivered) to the Defendant within six months of filing with the court. After this, the Defendant has twenty days to respond with their statement of defence, in which they will outline the facts from the statement of claim which they dispute, agree, or have no knowledge.
There are many additional steps which can occur during this phase; however this is the most straightforward and common route by which a civil action begins. With the opening phases of a civil action discussed, next week we will turn to the Discovery process, in which important and relevant documentation is exchanged between parties.
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.