March 30, 2020
A Guide to Changes in the Ontario Simplified Rules Procedure
The New Year has brought the New Rule 76. The existing Rule 76 was modified as an improvement to the Ontario Simplified Rules Procedures and took effect last January 1, 2020. By expanding access to the Simplified Procedure process in civil court, it helps many Ontario families, individuals, and businesses to resolve legal issues easily, quickly, and affordably. Amendments to Rule 76 of the Rules of Civil Procedure in Ontario were introduced on the 23rd of October 2019 to take effect january 1, 2020. It aims to streamline and reduce the costs of litigation, eliminate juries, and increase the monetary ceiling to $200,000 from the previous claim amount of $100,000.
Ontario Simplified Procedure Key Changes
In this post, we aim to explain the major changes in the Ontario Simplified Procedure, including:
- $200,000 Claim Limit – Among the amendments include the increase of monetary jurisdiction from $100,000 to $200,000 exclusive of interest and costs. With the increased amount ($35,000) in the Small Claims Court, a person can file a claim between $35,000 to $200,000 in the Superior Court of Justice using the simplified civil procedure rules. Additionally, the new changes include the removal of the jury trial under Rule 76. However, the jury trial is still available in actions under $200,000 for libel, slander, malicious prosecution, and false imprisonment.
- Cap on costs and disbursements – The litigant’s recovery of cost shall not exceed $50,000, excluding Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) while the recovery of disbursement shall not exceed $25,000, excluding HST. However, these new recovery costs and disbursement limitations do not apply to actions initiated prior to the new Simplified Rules Procedure.
- Increased Time for Oral Discovery – The new Simplified Procedure increased the time limit for oral discovery. Each party will be given up to 3 hours for oral examination for discovery. This will give both parties more time to obtain information from the other party during the litigation process, allowing them to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Equipped with facts, it helps you achieve a fair settlement.
- Trials Must Not Exceed 5 Days – Limiting the trial to 5 days helps facilitate the timely resolution of claims. Also, the amendment takes away the power of the trial judge to extend the trial period. The pre-trial conferences should be scheduled within 180 days of the action being set down for trial at a time acceptable to all parties unless the court orders otherwise. In case the parties failed to submit an agreed schedule, the pre-trial conference will be scheduled by the registrar.
Both parties will also be given at least 30 days before the scheduled pre-trial conference to prepare and agree on a trial management plan. The trial management plan should include a list of every witness and expert witness, and a time division between the parties that itemize the allocated times for opening statements, presentation of evidence, oral argument, cross-examination, and re-examination. The parties should file the trial management plan in the court at least 5 days prior to the pre-trial conference.
- No Jury Trials – Jury trials will no longer be available in Rule 76 actions to streamline and minimize the litigation costs. However, lawyers have the option to present a jury notice for any pending simplified procedure actions they have before the 2020 amendment. For actions that involve a claim for defamation, slander, malicious prosecution, or false imprisonment, parties are still allowed to deliver a jury notice on or after January 1, 2020. They should be able to present a Form 76A to continue the action under the ordinary procedure.
Additionally, if you are planning to call expert evidence during the trial, you must comply with the requirements provided in Rule 53.03 and should affix an expert report served under Rule 53.03. Expert affidavits that are cited at trial will be included in the trial record.
The Pre-Trial Conference
Filing of additional documents must be done 5 days before the pre-trial conference. These documents include the proposed trial management plan, expert affidavit, and a statement (3 pages maximum) that enumerates the issues and position of the party. The proposed trial management plan will be either reviewed and approved or amended by the judge or case management master. All changes in the proposed plan should be within the duration of the 5-day trial (Subrule 76.10(5)).
The pre-trial conference judge or case management master will decide the number of witnesses each party may call and provide the dates for the delivery of the witness and expert affidavits, as well as the date for trial. However, the trial date may be subject to the direction of the regional senior judge.
What You Need to Do Before the Trial
The party who served and filed the Notice of Pre-Trial Readiness must do the following at least 10 days prior to the trial:
- Serve a copy of the trial record to each party;
- File an Affidavit of Service and trial record with the court;
- Pay the court filing fee
The amended Simplified Procedure aims to promote cost-effective litigation and economic use of judicial time by streamlining the process to resolve claims to $200,000. This enables lawyers to adapt to a faster environment and manage clients and costs effectively. Since numerous disputes in Ontario involve a lesser amount than $200,000, a lot of legal experts expect to see increased use of Rule 76.
Most importantly, do not forget that this is your case. At Michelle Linka Law, we commit ourselves to keep our client knowledgeable and fully informed about the new process involved in the simplified procedure of Rule 76 and to provide them with an honest and fair approximation of what the case is worth. Contact our Richmond Hill personal injury lawyer to learn more about amended Rule 76 of the Rules of Civil Procedure in Ontario or any legal matters. Call Michelle Linka Law today at (705) 243-6494 for a free initial consultation