Civil Trial Procedures

A Civil lawsuit involves two parties:
 1. Plaintiff – who is suing


 2. Defendant – who is being sued
Civil Trial Procedures
 If more than one person, or party, has suffered
the harm, they should sue together as
plaintiffs.

 If more than one person, or party, is
responsible for the loss, they should be sued as
defendants.

 The process of suing is called litigation and
the parties in the action are the litigants

Civil Trial Procedures
 Minors may sue on their own for up to
$500.

 If the minor is suing for more than $500,
then a litigation guardian (responsible
adult – not necessarily a parent/guardian)
must act for the minor.
Civil Trial Procedures
 All litigants prepare and present the facts of the case.

 The burden of proof – onus – is on the plaintiff.

 The plaintiff does not have to prove the case beyond a
reasonable doubt.

 The plaintiff must prove the case on the balance of
probabilities.
Civil Trial Procedures
 Balance of Probabilities – the basis of
the greater likelihood.

 The defendant will then try to show that
his, or her, version of the story is what
really happened.

 It is up to the Judge to decide which
litigant is more credible or believable.
Filing and Serving a Claim
 The plaintiff must decide if there is a cause of action
(a valid reason for suing).

 The court in which the action will be heard depends
on the amount the plaintiff is suing for.

 Small Claims Court -- $3000 to $10 000 depending on
the province.

 Provincial Supreme Court if the amount exceeds the
small claims limit.
Filing and Serving a Claim
 Not all actions go to court, but it is often
the only way when the litigants have
different versions of the same event.

Filing and Serving a Claim
 When a claim is filed, it must include the
following:

 The plaintiff’s full name and address.
 The defendant’s full name and address.
 The amount of money being claimed.
 A brief, and clear, summary of the reasons for the
claim.

 The claim must be mailed, or hand delivered,
to the court clerk, along with a filing fee.
Filing and Serving a Claim
 The plaintiff chooses the location of the
court (eg. Hamilton, Niagara, etc.)

 The plaintiff receives a copy of the
summons and the court clerk keeps a
copy.

 The defendant is served with a copy of
the summons.
Filing and Serving a Claim
 If the defendant agrees to the full amount of
the claim, he/she can pay the amount, plus the
court costs, to the Small Claims Court office.

 This must be done within 10 to 30 days
(depending on the province).

 The court will then pay the plaintiff the full
amount of the claim. The dispute is now
settled.
Filing and Serving a Claim
 The defendant can prepare a defence/reply is
he, or she, does not believe that the plaintiff
should receive the claim.

 If the defendant disputes the claim, he/she
must do so within 10 to 30 days of receiving
the summons.

 A copy of the defence will be sent to the
plaintiff by the court office.
Other Options:
 Payment into Court

 The defendant can pay part of the amount
to the court office and the plaintiff can
either accept this amount or continue the
action in hopes of receiving the full
amount.
Other Options:
 Counterclaim

 The defendant is saying that the plaintiff is responsible
for the damages.

 The defendant must defend the original claim before
the counterclaim is proceeded with.

 The Judge will then determine which claim is more
credible, or likely, and who will receive what from
whom.
Other Options:
 Third Party Claim

 The defendant can claim that another person, or
party, is responsible for the problem.

 The case will then proceed with all three parties
present.

 The Judge will then determine which claim is more
credible, or likely, and who will receive what and from
whom.
Other Options:
 Out-of-Court Settlement

 Either litigant can make a formal, or
informal, offer to settle instead of going to
trial.
Pre-Trial Conference
 Last chance to resolve the dispute before trial.

 Both litigants have an informal meeting with the Judge
to negotiate an understanding.

 A basic summary of each case must be made to
ensure that there are no surprises in court.

 The Judge can give an opinion as to a possible
judgement. (This is not the Trial Judge).

 If an agreement cannot be reached, a trial date will be
set.