Simplified Procedure Process
In Ontario, if you have a dispute with an individual or corporation where the claim is for money or property valued between $25,000.00 and $100,000.00 an action can be commenced in the Superior Court of Justice using the Simplified Procedure process.1 It is important to note, that the Simplified Procedure does not apply to class proceedings, construction lien actions (with the exception of breach of trust claims), family law proceedings, Small Claims matters or Applications.
In Toronto, Windsor, and Ottawa, cases proceeding by way of Simplified Procedure are automatically subject to mandatory mediation to take place within 180 days after the Defence has been filed.2 Mediation is a process whereby a mediator attempts to resolve or settle the dispute between the parties prior to proceeding to trial. Even when Mediation is not required, the parties are still required to discuss settlement of the issues within 60 days of the Defence being filed in an effort to determine whether all relevant documents have been disclosed and if settlement of the issues is possible.
After the time for serving and filing pleadings has ended, the Discovery phase begins. Within 10 days of the close of Pleadings, parties are required to exchange all documents that are relevant to the matter in the form of an Affidavit of Documents. Thereafter, unlike the Ordinary Procedure, where Examinations for Discovery are required, parties in a Simplified Procedure action can choose whether to participate in Examinations for Discovery. Should the parties opt to conduct these Examinations, each party is entitled to two hours of oral discovery (as opposed to seven hours in the Ordinary Procedure).
Following the Discovery stage, the parties will begin to prepare for trial and will participate in a pre-trial conference. A pre-trial conference is a hearing before a judge or a master to determine the current outstanding issues and the positions of the parties. Further discussion does take place before a judge to determine whether the case can be resolved and if not, the parties can choose to conduct an ordinary or summary trial. Should the parties be unable to agree on the type of trial, the pre-trial conference judge or master will make that determination.
A summary trial is a shorter trial where evidence is presented in the form of a written Affidavit and can give oral evidence for up to 10 minutes by the party’s own lawyer, and be cross-examined by their testimony and Affidavit for up to 50 minutes by opposing counsel. Further, each party has 45 minutes to present oral arguments.
The Simplified Procedure is a more expeditious and cost-effective method for resolving issues and is an important consideration when determining your legal strategy. As it is a significantly more concise process than the Ordinary Procedure, understanding how to properly navigate and prepare for actions proceeding in this manner is critical to your eventual success.
1 Notably, if your claim is for property or a monetary value exceeding $100,000.00 you may be able to bring the action under the Simplified Procedure; however, if there is an objection by the Defendant(s) it will possibly proceed by way of the Ordinary Procedure.
2 In other jurisdictions, mediation is optional