Lawsuits and litigation take many forms. Sometimes the dispute arises out of business dealings. For example, a contract has been breached or an invoice unpaid. Other times, litigation arises out of personal dealings. Perhaps somebody has damaged your property or injured you in some manner.
Before going to the court, you should try to resolve your issues with the other party. Keep good records of everything that has happened, including dates, times and any other documentation. Before proceeding with a lawsuit, you should put the other side on notice that you intend to claim damages, as well as your legal costs and interest. You should do that in writing.
Next, you should determine where you should initiate the lawsuit. You need to choose the correct jurisdiction. You need to select the correct court house. This will depend on the nature of your matter as well as the amount of money you are claiming. Some options include the Small Claims Court, Simplified Procedure at the Superior Court of Justice, and ordinary procedure in the Superior Court of Justice. You should locate the address the courthouse, as you need to attend there to file your claim, although online filing is now available as well. There is a cost to filing a Statement of Claim or Plaintiff's Claim.
Your Statement of Claim needs to include all amounts you are claiming. You have to be able to identify all the relevant parties (defendants) and describe the relevant facts that form the basis of your claim. It's not a place to include evidence per se, that will come later on as part of documentary disclosure between the parties. When you are drafting a claim, you need to determine what types of damages you are asking for. There are pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages. There are also special damages, exemplary, punitive, and aggravated damages. There are also costs to be claimed, HST, pre-judgment interest, as well as reasonable disbursements. If you are thinking of drafting a claim, a lawyer can help you ensure that your pleading is permissible, and that it also includes all the information you need and what you're claiming for.
If you have been sued, you should speak to a lawyer right away because there are tight deadlines to respond to a Statement of Claim that has been served on you. If you choose to ignore the claim, the plaintiff can get default judgment against you. You don't want to find out later on that your wages are being garnished or any assets seized to pay for the judgment. A lawyer can help you prepare your Statement of Defence, help you gather evidence, and also give you insights as to the viability of the plaintiff's claim and what your potential risk and exposure is.
A lawyer can help you through all different parts of the litigation process, such as examinations for discovery, potentially a mediation, the pre-trial, and a trial. There could be motions that are brought, which the lawyer can help you respond to by drafting motion records or affidavits. Or you may need to bring a motion, in which case a lawyer can help you draft the materials as well. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of resources online as to how to bring and respond to a motion, so it's best to contact a lawyer, even if it is on a limited scope basis, to figure out this procedure. Unbundled legal services are gaining in popularity, and you can look into that if you're not prepared to have a lawyer take on the entire case.
Ready to get started? Key Legal has Ontario Litigation Lawyers ready to help you either through Zoom meetings or by telephone. You can either book an appointment or request a lawyer on-demand. Just use our booking page or our chat feature to get started!