Ontario Civil Court Rules for Beginners

Ontario Civil Court Rules for Beginners


Welcome every one this is Amer Mushtaq from
You Counsel. Today we’ll talk about Rules of Civil Procedure
in Ontario Courts. And this lecture is really for the beginners
who have no idea what these rules are, what is their purpose, where to find them, what
to do with them, so we’ll cover those basic topics in this lecture. Before we begin, just a disclaimer, that this
course is not legal advice, so, if you have any specific questions please contact your
lawyer or paralegal. Procedural rules, that’s what they are. So, we’ll talk about what is their purpose
how many categories of rules are out there, how do you find these rules, where they are,
and then what is this beast called Practice Directions? Are they additional rules and what do you
do with them where to find them? There is a basic purpose of the Rules of Civil
Procedure and that is to ensure that the process of a court action is fair. And, so what I mean by that is when you begin
your court action, a claim against somebody, or you’re defending a claim that is issued
by someone else against you, that matter at some point will eventually go to trial, the
matter will be heard before a judge, and the judge will decide which party is right and
which party is wrong. And it is important to ensure that by the
time the matter is before the judge, a trial, all of the steps that have been taken by parties
are leading to a fair process, so, that no side is unduly advantaged by any way or by
any technicality to get to that. Because if the process itself is unfair, then
it will be hard for a party to get a fair trial. So, this is all about process and these are
codified in rules. Let me give you an example of that, so, let’s
say you commence a court action against a party, so, the process is you draft what’s
called a Statement of Claim, you go to the court office, you pay the fees, the court
fees, and then the court staff or the registrar will stamp that that claim and then assign
a court file number and then issue it and sign it. So, that’s now a document in court records
that indicates that there is a claim that has been issued by a party against certain
parties or a party. Now, for a defendant who has to respond to
that claim, he needs to have clear knowledge that a claim has been issued against him or
her right, and so, how does the court ensures that that person will actually receive the
documents … there is a whole process. There are rules that dictate how you can serve
that claim. So, for instance, you know, if you put that
claim in the mail at the last known address of that person, you know the address you put
it in mail and you send it out and that person does not receive it and you go to the judge
and say I have served the claim, I sent it by mail, if the person is not defending, I
want you to grant me the judgment because that defendant is not here, right? And so, that may not be a fair process because
there is no way to confirm or verify that the person actually received that particular
claim. So, to ensure that the rules provide specific
ways of how that claim can be served, so, that sort of an example of the claim which
ensures that that person is actually received it and if at that point that person decides
not to defend it then the court can proceed with awarding a judgment against that person. So, those kind of processes and there are
a large number of those processes related to claims and defense and how you serve them,
how many days do you have to respond to it, and you know how do you do the examinations
for discovery, how do you set matters down for trial? So, I’ll kind of review that briefly, so
that I show you what kinds of rules are out there in the Rules of Civil Procedure but
this is the basic purpose of these rules to ensure that there is fairness in the process. Now, there are different categories of rules
and so it’s not like you pick up one book and it says Rules of the Court and that’s
all you have to abide by or you have to understand, unfortunately not. So, just to give you an example Rules of Civil
Procedure in Ontario, which is what we’re going to talk about today briefly that’s one
category of rules. Federal Court has its own set of rules and
so, which may be different, which actually are different than Rules of Civil Procedure. Then Criminal Courts have their own rules. Small Claims Court has its own rules and they’re
called Rules of Small Claims Court. Human Rights Tribunal has its own rule, so,
depending upon which body, which court, which judicial body you are attending before, they
may have their separate rules and so, you need to make sure ‘A’, you find what those
rules are and then you understand them, you read them, and you comply with them. So, all these categories are there and then
each province has its own rules … we’re talking about Ontario today and then Alberta
would have its own Rules of Civil Procedure and British Columbia would have its own Rules
of Civil Procedure, so, you need to understand those rules. Okay, so focusing on Ontario Rules of Civil
Procedure you know we’re going to talk about where to find them, what is this thing called
Course of Justice Act, and what are the regulations, and we’ll just sort of briefly overview
the rules. So let’s go to Google and you type in, so
you are at Google, and you have no idea where to find these rules so you type in the Rules
of Civil Procedure, it’s already here. CanLii is this website that provides free
statutes of the entire Canada, so, you can find all the statutes and regulations in there. So, let’s click OK. You go to CanLii’s website and then it will
take you there. So, Rules of Civil Procedure RRO 1990, Regulation
194, I’ll come back to it to what that means, but these are the rules and you see there’s
a table of content. The important point that I want to make, not
really important for the purposes of you knowing these rules, but these Rules of Civil Procedure
are essentially a regulation under a statute called Courts of Justice Act and I’ll show
you in a minute what Courts of Justice Act is. But these are regulations made under the specific
statute for your purposes for practical purposes, whether it’s Courts of Justice or whether
it’s regulation, there all rules, so, they all are equally applicable and so you just
need to understand that. Let’s look at the table of contents and I
was talking to you about what kinds of things that the rules deals with, there’s General
Matters, Parties and Joinder, so what are different kinds of parties and in a court
proceeding it talks about that in these rules. Commencement of a Proceeding, a Proceeding
is a court action or an application that you commence in court and that’s called a Proceeding. So, you know, how do you commence that Proceeding? Here I’m talking about Service, so, service
has three rules how do you serve something, what are the timeframes and what not? It’s defined in these rules, if there’s no
trial, how do you end a Matter or Disposition without trial? Pleadings, Pleadings are the court documents
like claim and defense and reply and what not so, it defines what Pleadings are. Then Discovery, Examinations how these Examinations
are conducted out of court. All of these rules are there, they’re fairly
comprehensive they pretty much cover every single thing that you may have to deal with
in a civil court and there is some rule regarding that, so you can you can find that out. Let’s look into Service. Service of Documents I was talking to you
about the Service of Statement of Claim, I was giving you an example. So here’s 16.01, Sub 1 Originating Process. Originating Process is like a claim or Notice
of Application it’s defined in the rules you can find that. But an Originating Process shall be served
personally as provided in rule 16.02 or by an alternative to personal service as provided
in Rule 16.03. So, the rule is specifically saying that when
you have a Statement of Claim, you have to serve it personally and then what does that
“personally” means that’s defined in rule 16.02 or it could be served by alternative
to personal service as in Rule 16.03 right? So, you go down to16.02 and it says Personal
Service and then it goes on to define what a Personal Service. So, this is this is sort of a flavor of what
these rules are and we will in further lectures, sort of pick on each rule and we’ll talk
about it briefly so you get an understanding of what these rules are. I talked about Courts of Justice Act; so,
let’s quickly look at Courts of Justice Act as you go back to Google and you type in the
Courts of Justice Act. Again, if you want to go on CanLii. There are different sources where you can
find these rules, but CanLii is sort of what I try to use most. Primarily, because I like the table of contents,
some of the websites don’t have table of contents and that makes it easier for you to review
these websites through a table of contents. So a Courts of Justice Act is a larger Act
that deals with the Administration of Justice in Ontario and it talks about what kinds of
courts are in Ontario, what is the Court of Appeal, administration of the courts how they
are administered, appointment of judges and officers, court proceedings, so, all of these
things are in the statute and if you notice this Part 4 talks about Rules of Court and
this is where the Rules of Civil Procedure come in, there are specific sections in the
statute that allows for the creation of Rules of Civil Procedure. Just quickly, look at courts of Ontario, so,
we’ll see how many kinds of courts of there. Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court,
Family Court, Small Claims Court, Ontario Courts of Justice. They’re all these kind of courts and then
Court of Appeal Ontario. So, all these kind of courts have specific
purposes and you need to know which court your matter belongs to, you have to go to
that court to that province, to that territory, to that municipality, to that region and then
commence your court action in that regard. So that’s where that’s the process of finding
them and I gave you an overview of these rules but by all means explore these rules look
at them and find more about that. So what on earth is Practice Direction? What are these, what is their purpose and
where to find them? So, just so you know if it was not enough
that the rules are so complicated they are for different provinces and then for different
courts there are different rules. To make matters a bit more complicated, we
have something called Practice Direction, so what is a Practice Direction? Practice Directions are issued by at least
in Ontario, by a different Regional Court. So, there’s a Region of Toronto, there’s a
Region of Peel and each region administers its courts differently. And so, what happens why do we need Practice
Directions? Because sometimes the Regional Courts requires
certain tailoring of the larger Rules of Civil Procedure based upon, you know, how busy the
courts are, based upon their system and what not, so they may have slightly different systems. So, based upon which region your case belongs
to, you will have to look at the Practice Directions of that particular court which
are in other words additional rules that the courts have provided and you have to follow
them. So, you want to make sure that you understand
the Rules of Civil Procedure and then you have understand the Relevant Practice Directions
because those are really the one that may modify certain rules or explain certain rules
or put additional rules and you need to follow those rules. So, that’s the purpose of Practice Directions
and where to find them we go back to our friend Google. And let’s say you type in, “Practice Directions”
you see here Practice Directions Ontario and there are other Practice Directions, you see
Brampton, Court of Appeals, Newmarket you already see those options there, so, let’s
look at Practice Directions Ontario. And you find this link OntarioCourts.CA this
is I believe a government website for the courts, slash Superior Court of Justice slash
Practice slash Practice Directions. So you click on that he link and then it has
multiple things, Practice Directions, Notices and Guides, and you review those. So, let’s say you want to go to the Practice
Direction you have brought a Civil Action or an Application or a Motion you want to
make sure that you click on it and then you read all these rules and they’ll talk about
different matters. Rules applicable to all Motions and Application
if you are bringing a motion, you must read Practice Direction and understand what the
rules are saying. So, this is what they are and you need to,
now, you know where to find them, and you must read these rules and understand them. So, you need to know if you have a civil matter
in Ontario then you need to sort of, read the Rules of Civil Procedure Ontario and then
read up on Practice Directions. So, in summary read the rules, understand
them, and follow these rules because they are essential if you don’t comply with these
rules there will be consequences and a lot of times could be negative consequences, serious
consequences, so, you need to understand that. Regarding the last point follow the rules
I just want to tell you sort of something from my own experience. When I became a lawyer many years ago and
we were getting this lecture from a senior litigator, he was talking about the Rules
of Civil Procedure and he posed as his question: what are these rules? And you know some smart ass lawyer said, “these
are the Ontario rules and these are for the fairness of process” and he was like “okay,
so what do you do with these rules” and the he had replied, “that you must understand
these rules and follow these rules so that the process is fair”. And that’s where that senior lawyer interjected
and said wrong answer, he said, “you want to understand these rules fairly well, but
when you realize that the rules are not favorable to your client you need to learn how to go
around them”. And that was an interesting comment. So it’s not that you break the rules, it’s
not that you don’t follow them but if the if a specific rule is not in favor of your
client, then you figure out how do you go around that rule to further your client’s
interest. So, that’s an you know fortunately or unfortunately
depending upon how you view the purpose of legal profession, but if you believe that
the lawyers fundamental role is to advance his or client’s interest, then that sort of
where you get these kind of interpretations of rules, which may be twisted bent in different
ways and what not. So, something to keep in mind because whether
you follow the rules appropriately, the other side may try to bend them and you need to
be alert to these things. Hopefully, this was helpful in terms of understanding
some basic concepts about Rules of Civil Procedure, what we’ll try to do in the ensuing lectures
is that we’ll try to pick up on some of the important rules. We’ll talk about it, what do they say, how
do you understand it because there are these are sort of fairly complex rules unfortunately,
not easily, not designed for everyday people in mind and so, we’ll talk about this in more
detail and basically make it sort of a fair game, make it simpler for you to understand
these rules. So any comments, please write us, send us
an e-mail, post your comments, like us on YouTube and we look forward to seeing you
in the next lecture … thank you for watching.

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