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How To File A Civil Lawsuit In Ontario

How To File A Civil Lawsuit In Ontario

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid conflicts in life, no matter how much you want to try. While there are some things you can solve by talking, others need legal intervention. That is why people file lawsuits against those that wronged them. It’s important to understand exactly what a civil lawsuit in Ontario actually is.

If your case does not involve any criminal acts under your government’s penal laws, your lawsuit will be a civil case. And you may think everyone in Ontario knows how to file one since plenty of lawyers and law firms are here. But the process can be long and rarely simple. So to help you, below is an outline of the civil litigation process in Ontario.


If you wish to file a civil lawsuit in Ontario, file a Statement of Claim first. This document outlines the situation you are in and what you ask from the court to make it right.

It may be the first step in your lawsuit, but you need to make critical decisions on the timing and location. For example, the court can make your action statute-barred if you file your lawsuit for too long. This prevents you from filing your lawsuit because courts don’t want to listen to cases that happened many years ago. They have more important matters to hear and judge. So if you are seeking legal remedies for your situation, best to file a lawsuit the moment you discover the wrong.

You need to file in the right location, too. If your case happened in Ottawa, the court typically tells you not to file your lawsuit in Toronto. If you do, your opponent may force you to re-file in the place where the incident happened, wasting your time and money. So it would be best to hire a lawyer to help you file the lawsuit at the right time and location.

When you file your statement of your claim, your opponent will typically file a statement of defense in response. And their file will contain why they disagree with you and should not be liable. After that, the trial will begin.


After filing your statement of claim, the next step is for both sides to determine what they are arguing in the Discovery process. And they have to produce the necessary documents that support their statements and present them to the other side. Depending on the complexity, the documentary process of Discovery can be long or short.

During the process, your lawyer gets to question your opponent about the case and its facts. However, the defendant’s lawyer gets to do the same thing to you, too.

The Discovery process can be grueling. But when done, both parties will understand the points of disagreement. Doing all the work necessary in the Discovery will shorten the trial because the only things to argue are the key issues in the case.

Mandatory Mediation

Mandatory mediations are necessary to conduct before a pre-trial can begin. And both parties have to select a mediator. Some can be cheap to hire. But serious cases will need a senior mediator who will charge ranging from $500 to $800.

Why is this necessary? Well, because court trials can be expensive and time-consuming. Mandatory mediation is the court’s way of showing both parties an alternative solution to their argument.

Pre-Trial Conference

A pre-trial conference is held before a judge before you can go to an actual trial if the mandatory mediation didn’t work.

Both parties must attend the pre-trial conference to set the tone for what’s to come. The judge and the disputants will discuss the issues to narrow them down and the possibility of a settlement.

The lawsuit will proceed to a trial if both parties cannot agree on a settlement.


Because of the Rules of Civil Procedure, both parties can bring their motion before or during the trial. But each can take a lot of time since it requires preparing and filing new documents.

In some instances, it’s a trial within a trial. For example, if your opponent does not believe you have a case, they can file a Motion for Summary. But to prove this in court, your opponent will argue their reason in front of the judge. Thus, the trial within the trial. So motions can sometimes slow down the trial process even further.


Assuming both parties finished everything above and still disputing the case, the actual trial can finally proceed. And it can either be in front of a judge or a jury. If you’ve seen trials in movies and television, yours will be the same. Both parties will have opening and closing statements, and witnesses will undergo examination and cross-examination.

The trial can last for weeks. But after everything is said and done, the judge or jury can decide on who’s right and wrong. This is leading up to the end part of the civil lawsuit in Ontario.

Post-Judgment Execution

If the court ruled in your favor, you can finally go home and celebrate, right? Unfortunately, not every case ends after the trial because your opponent can appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. Only when they dispose of it can you finally collect your judgment.

But even with all that, it may not still end since your opponent may refuse to pay. Fortunately, you can find legal remedies to solve this and force your opponent to pay the judgment. So if this happens to you, hiring a qualified lawyer can help.

How Long Does A Case Take To Get to Trial and What Cost?

Most cases can take about two years before they can get to trial. So courts allow management scheduling. Though, they can amend it for specific situations.

For the costs, you’ll need to consider the volume of the documents, the number of parties, and the number of motions.

So there isn’t any specific time or cost you can use to gauge your case since each one can be unique. It’s best to ask specific lawyers who are experienced at civil lawsuits in Ontario.

Conclusion of How to File a Civil Lawsuit in Ontario

Civil litigation in Ontario can be a long and difficult process. So it’s essential to know what you are getting into before you proceed with anything. It would be best to start a trial if you can’t find a settlement with your opponent. And hire a lawyer to ensure that nothing goes wrong in the process.

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