Civil Litigation Procedures in Ontario, Canada


On the occasion of the 2012 Annual Conference of the INBLF (International Network of Boutique Law firms – which takes place in Rancho Palos Verde, October 12-14, 2012, we submit the following summary of civil litigation procedures in Canada, with emphasis on the province of Ontario, where 35% of Canada’s population resides. The law and procedure are similar in all the common provinces and territories of Canada but differs in Quebec which has the Quebec Civil Code.

This summary is not exhaustive of all situations and is not intended as legal advice. It contains information to assist the reader’s understanding of the civil court system and judgment enforcement in Ontario, Canada. For additional information about business litigation and arbitration cases, shareholder disputes and appeals, please consult other articles posted on this website or on For legal advice, please contact the author or another lawyer who knowledgeable in these matters.

The gives an overview of the law and procedure on the following civil litgation important topics:

1. What is necessary to determine jurisdiction?

2. What is the procedure for starting a claim - are there any pre-action protocols to follow?

3. What are the rules on service in and out of the jurisdiction?

4. What are the rules on governing law?

5. Can interim relief (e.g. injunctions) be obtained?

6. What is the costs regime (e.g. fixed costs, loser pays)?

7. Are risk sharing and litigation funding arrangements allowed?

8. How long does the average case take to get to trial and at what cost?

9. Is mediation/ADR mandatory?

10. What are the procedures for enforcing (a) foreign judgments and (b) domestic judgments?

The author is a civil and business litigation specialist. He is the senior partner of Ellyn Law LLP, a well-known business litigation and arbitration boutique in Toronto.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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