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How To Avoid A Lengthy, Costly Trial – Ontario’s Simplified Procedure

Simplified Procedure in a Nutshell: Efficient Justice

Through the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Ontario Legislature has created a playing field for those who seek justice but haste, given the price tag of pursuing it.[1] Under Rule 76, most matters in which the plaintiff claims damages of $200,000 or less in money, real property, or personal property, must adhere to “Simplified Procedure” – a special series of procedural rules aimed at reducing the cost and duration of the litigation process.[2]

Simplified Procedure further remains an option for plaintiffs who have a claim over the $200,000 threshold provided they follow the enumerated steps outlined in sub rules (4) to (9), noting the importance of obtaining consent from all parties to the litigation.[3]


The Integral Confines of Simplified Procedure

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Jury Notice: A Presumptive Right to a Jury Trial

The Rules, last updated in January 2023, do not come without controversy in their application. A poignant example is found in proceedings advanced upon the delivery of a jury notice. On one hand, Rule 76.01(1)(d) details that actions featuring the delivery of such notice are not to proceed through the Simplified Procedure, given the inherent complexity that is assumed in the ordinary procedure.[4] This draws an apparent conflict with Rule 76.02(7), which outlines that an action commenced under ordinary procedure (to be tried via judge or jury) can be converted into a matter governed by Simplified Procedure (to be tried strictly via judge), seemingly forgetting the Rules’ comment on the complexity of ordinary procedure.[5]

With this murkiness, what hope is there, if any, for lawyers to appease the calls of their clients for an efficient, expedited trial? It appears that the Rules, to the plaintiff’s benefit, want to leave the door for actions to proceed under Simplified Procedure ajar. Rule 76.02(7) continues on to provide further guidance: Where an action is commenced under ordinary procedure, it may be brought into the realm of Simplified Procedure through the consent of the parties or via the striking out of a jury notice.[6] Despite this added roadblock to bringing a matter into Simplified Procedure, counsel and their clients must know that doing so remains a possibility. Justification from recent jurisprudence in Simplified Procedure matters (see: Justice De Sa’s comments in Sapex Canada Inc., below), should provide greater optimism to the plaintiff seeking a transition into Simplified Procedure.[7]


Costs and Disbursements

Additional consideration must be granted to the limitations and restrictions on the costs and disbursements that can be recovered in actions tried through Simplified Procedure. The new Rules sets a maximum for costs at $50,000 +HST and disbursements at $25,000+ HST respectively.[8] This cap is great news for plaintiffs pursuing the route of Simplified Procedure. With the typical legal risk insurance policy covering $100,000 in adverse cost awards, clients can embrace the comfort of knowing that the sum of costs and disbursements, even in the worst-case scenario, will not leave them in the debt.


“Just, Expeditious, and Affordable” Solutioning: Overcoming Anxiety in Applying Simplified Procedure to LTD Claims


Those pursuing justice in Long-term Disability (LTD) matters previously pursued actions through ordinary procedure, in fear that a court could not consider declaratory relief under Rule 76. At its crux, however, Simplified Procedure embodies the court’s ideation of expedited and affordable proceedings, with interpretive questions to be read through liberal glasses. The cases of Paulo Viana and Sapex Canada Inc. have been demonstrative in overcoming such anxiety.


In Paulo Viana Dentistry, the court held that outcomes which contain awards beyond the transfer of money, real or personal property - such as a declaratory order as to whether the claimant be found disabled or not disabled – do not preclude the Simplified Procedure from being applied (15).[9] Justice Grace opined that, while the Simplified Procedure was designed with the three pillars of Rule 76.02(1) in mind, due to their simplicity, nothing in Rule 76 instructs that only these awards align with the Procedure.[10]


Justice De Sa took the matter further in Sapex Canada Inc., when he explicitly held that the Court may grant injunctions in Simplified Procedure actions.[11] In particular, Justice De Sa lent deference to the interpretive guidance of Rule 1.04 of the Rules – that the Judge’s role is to interpret the Rules in a way that grants the “just, most expeditious and least expensive determination of every civil proceeding”.[12]



Summary


The Simplified Procedure is a game changer. In contrast to the long, costly process of trial through ordinary means, Simplified Procedure has streamlined the process of navigating the legal system to its most critical junctures, and has minimized the burden, both in time and money, incurred by individuals seeking justice. As an important takeaway, Simplified Procedure is to be considered by clients and lawyers with a healthy, liberal mentality. With a legal system instructed to provide the public with the most just, expeditious, and the “least expensive determination” possible, one should be sure that the system will look to include, not exclude, claims made in that fashion.


The personal injury lawyers at Littlejohn Barristers have significant experience representing clients who seek the simplified procedure in remedying their matters. For further information, please contact our Ba

[1] RRO 1990, Reg 194 [Rules]. [2] Ibid s. 76.02(1). [3] Ibid s. 76.02(3). [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid. [6] Ibid. [7] Sapex Canada Inc. v. 2264233 Ontario Inc., 2022 ONSC 187 (CanLII) [Sapex Canada Inc.]. [8] Rules, supra note 1 s. 76.12.1(1). [9] Paulo Viana Dentistry v Kapoor et al., 2017 ONSC 4312 (CanLII) at 15. [10] Ibid at 18. [11] Sapex Canada Inc., supra note 7 at 24. [12] Ibid at 33 citing RRO 1990 Reg 194 s. 1.04.

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