Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure
In keeping with modern advances in our society, The Honourable Coulter Osborne (former Associate Chief Justice of Ontario), was asked to propose some options that would assist in making our civil justice system more accessible and affordable. The Honourable Coulter Osborne submitted his findings and recommendations and in December 2008 The Civil Rules Committee filed amendments, which are scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2010 (amendments can be found here). It is important to note that there is no transitional stage with respect to the amendments coming into force.
The following are a few amendments that caught my eye:
1. Rule 1.04 (1.1) provides that the court shall make orders and give directions that are proportionate to the importance and complexity of issues, and the amount involved, in the proceeding.
2. Rule 1.08 will permit the court, on its own initiative, to hear matters by telephone or video conference.
3. Pursuant to Rule 20 (summary judgment), the general test to obtain judgment is the moving parties ability to show that there is "no genuine issue for trial". Rule 20 has now been amended which imposes the burden on the moving party to show that there is "no genuine issue requiring a trial".
4. In actions commenced in Toronto, Ottawa and Essex County, mandatory mediations are to take place within 180 days, rather than from 90 days of filing the first defence unless the court orders otherwise.
5. Where the discovery tools are likely to be implemented in a litigious matter, Rule 29.1 now requires the parties to agree to a discovery plan before the earlier of 60 days after the close of pleadings or such longer period as agreed. The discovery plan must be in writing and it must include the intended scope of documentary discovery, taking into account relevance, costs and the importance and complexity of the issues.
6. With respect to examinations for discovery, regardless of the number of parties or other persons to be examined, no party is allowed to examine for more than seven hours unless the party has obtained the consent of the parties or has obtained a court order.
7. The monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court will be increased to $25,000.00.
Again, these amendments were made with a view that it would make our civil justice system more accessible and affordable. For instance, permitting courts to hear matters via telephone or video conference will free up judicial resources, and reduce Lawyers fees. Increasing the monetary jurisdiction of Small Claims Court to $25,000.00 will provide access to justice for many in need and at the same time eliminate the demanding obligations that are imposed upon parties under the Rules of Civil Procedure. I will be looking on with interest as these amendments take effect in the new year.
Thank you for reading and have a great day.