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Understanding the commercial and civil litigation process in Ontario

dNovo Group

If two or more parties cannot come to an understanding on a particular legal matter, then they can file a civil case. A civil suit could involve individuals, groups of people, companies, and other organizations.

Civil litigation can deal with claims for personal injuries, damage to property, damage to reputation, or disagreements about a contract. A civil case can be started by:

  • Preparing and filing an action, or a statement of claim describing the facts of the case
  • Preparing and filing a Notice of Application under the circumstances dictated by the Rules of Civil Procedure

When filing a civil claim in the Superior Court of Justice, there is usually a standard set of procedures to follow:

Starting a claim

A plaintiff may start a case by preparing a Statement of Claim, paying the necessary fees, and having the claim issued by the court. A statement of claim should include a summary of facts about the case and be filed alongside a fully accomplished Form 14F, which can be filed in person, by mail, or online. The claim must then be served by asking the court to stamp and date the statement of claim and provide a copy to each named defendant within six months.

Defending a claim

If you have been served with a claim, you should prepare the following and file them with the court:

Note that if you do not file a statement of defence, you may be noted in default. Being noted in default comes with a set of repercussions- such as the court assuming that you acknowledge any claims made against you and allowing for the suing party to request that payment be ordered by the court. 


Mediation is a process that helps both parties work toward a resolution. It involves the parties coming to an agreement with the help of a mediator. Under the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program, all parties in civil cases must first attend a mandatory mediation session during the early stages of the case.


Discovery is divided into two parts: Obtaining documents and conducting a recorded examination, where questions are asked by either side. The discovery period can be an instrumental tool in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case, reducing trial-related issues and possibly leading to a resolution.

Within 60 days of closing the pleadings, you and the other parties must come together to create a discovery plan. To make discovery as efficient and economical as possible, all parties must consider the types of documents involved in the process, including affidavits, the names of those being examined during discovery, and the timing and length of examinations.

Setting the action down for trial

Once defences have been submitted and all discovery proceedings (along with any related motions) are done, you or a participant in the case can ask for a trial date. This is known as setting down the action for trial.

In preparation for this event, your trial record needs to be compiled. This contains a table of contents, a copy of any jury notice, copies of all pleadings, orders made during your case, and a certificate signed by your lawyer confirming that the action has been set down for trial.

Pre-trial conference

Prior to the commencement of any trial, all parties must be present at a pre-trial conference. During this meeting, there is an opportunity for resolution through potential settlement and possible simplification of issues. Furthermore, attendees should discuss their estimation of how long the proceedings may take to adequately prepare for what lies ahead.


A judge will adjudicate your case. During the trial, you and any other involved parties will present evidence by questioning witnesses and entering documents or objects as exhibits. After a trial, a judge may issue their ruling either immediately or reserve judgment by issuing it at a later date.

Commercial and civil litigation lawyer in Ontario

No matter the size or complexity of your civil case, you need experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. At Chand & Co Litigation Counsel, our team of legal professionals has extensive knowledge in civil and commercial litigation, regulatory compliance, and professional regulation. Visit our website to contact us for a case evaluation at your earliest convenience.