Statement of Claim in a Civil Action in Ontario – Basics for Beginners [video]

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This lecture explains the basic concept of a statement of claim, it’s purpose in a civil action in Ontario and the rules to draft it.

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of Formative LLP.   Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals.  Subscribe today to learn more.

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Welcome everyone, this is Amer Mushtaq from You Counsel. In the last few lectures, we have been talking about the process of starting or commencing a civil action in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. We have gone through a couple lectures, I believe, one on explaining the basic steps that you are required to take to commence a Civil Court action in Ontario, and the second one was, I believe, on filling out form Information for Court Use form. So, today we’ll talk about the second step for the commencement of your court action which is preparing the Statement of Claim. So we’ll talk about what is a Statement of Claim, what goes inside it, why it is important. We’ll go through some of the basics so you can understand the concept of the Statement of Claim and understand its value in the court process.

We will begin with a disclaimer, that this course is not legal advice, so, if you have any specific questions please contact a lawyer or paralegal.

In our previous lectures we started with an example, it is easier to explain the process with an example, so, we came up with this scenario where Mary loaned $100,000 to John. John refused to pay back the money and Mary needs to go to court and get a court order or a judgment against John, so, she could get her money back. The two legislation that we have already discussed in previous lectures that are relevant important, one is Courts of Justice Act, and the second is Rules of Civil Procedure, which are regulations underneath the course of Justice Act. Both of these regulations statutes are available online, you can simply Google, and get these rules and the legislation and review, but we will give you a summary of how these rules are applied in this specific context of Statement of Claim today.

We’ve also talked about the steps to commence a court action, you’ll have to complete what’s called an Information for Court Use Form, you will have to prepare a Statement of Claim, and then you take two copies of the Statement of Claim, one copy of the Information for Court Use Form along with the court fees I believe is $220 to the court office and have your claim issued there. So, today we’ll talk about the drafting of Statement of Claim. With respect to drafting of the claim, obviously, the first step is you need to download the form that’s the Statement of Claim form, it’s available online … I’ll show you how to download it and then second step is you actually draft or write that Statement of Claim, then you print two copies and then you take it to court. So, let’s go to Google and see if we can find the form for Statement of Claims.

So, Rules of Civil Procedure form. All of the forms that relate to Rules of Civil Procedure are available online and we know from the rules that 14A is the form for Statement of Claim. I’ll open it, just to show you what does it look like. So this is the form for Statement of Claim and some information that’s already typed here stays there, you just keep it and then you add to your information. So, you will add in the general heading section here you will provide information of the plaintiff and the defendant. If you are the plaintiff, in this case, Mary Kosner is the plaintiff and the defendant is John Smith so will have that information, and then if you scroll down, you will put down the amount. This is the amount that if the defendant is unwilling to fight and believes that he, in this case, John Smith owes the money as claimed then he can pay the amount $100,000 and then some amount for the cost. This is the cost of preparing, so, you can put down a dollar amounts, and this is only if the defendant is willing to pay what the plaintiff is claiming. In most cases, the defendant will at least fight or negotiate with the plaintiff. Underneath there goes the date, the date of the issuance of the claim and then it is signed by the registrar and the address of that specific court, if its in Toronto then you’ll have the Toronto court address here, if it’s another court in Ontario, then another courts address will be here.

Over here goes the information of the defendant and underneath that we’ll talk about Rule 76. We’ll have a separate lecture on Rule 76, but in the previous lectures I’ve briefly explained that if your claim is for $100,000 or less, then you must commence your court action under Rule 76, so, this language is specific here. And then underneath that is the claim and so this is where you put down your claim, you write it down and complete this form so I’ll show you an example of a claim that I’ve already completed specific to our example, so, you can get an a basic understanding of what goes in the claim.

So, let’s go back to our slide. The main thing you want to remember is that your Statement of Claim is really the most important document in the proceeding and so, you want to make sure that you properly draft it and it contains everything that you need to get what you want out of the court. So, let me explain a Statement of Claim by way of what is it and why do you need it.

A Statement of Claim is a document which you provide to the court and the document states or document says “what is it that you want out of the court,” “what is it that you want out of the judge?” So, if you are asking to asking the judge to give an order of $100,000 or judgment of $100,000 against John then that’s something that you’re asking. So, you have to be very specific in your Statement of Claim to say what is it, what kind of order, what judgment are you seeking from the court, so, it’s called Prayer of Relief or Claim for Relief but what is it that you want from the judge or from the court? And then the second component is why. Why should you be given what you’re asking? In “why” you basically fill out your story, so, why is a statement of your facts, your side of the story, your version of the story that why you are entitled to what you are asking.

So, the contents of the Statement of Claim are obviously importance, so, I’ll go through some of the key features that you must keep in mind.

Item number one is that a Statement of Claim should have facts but not evidence and an example in our case is the fact is John borrowed $100,000 from Mary, so, that’s a fact. If John had sent a text message to Mary asking for the loan of $100,000 and then Mary sent the money, by you know, wire transfer and there are bank documents that prove that the wire transfer actually went through to John’s account those are all pieces of evidence. Those are the pieces of evidence that prove the fact that Mary gave $100,000 to John. So, in the Statement of Claim you are not putting down the evidence … all you are telling is what are the facts of your case and you will have another opportunity with respect to Affidavit of Documents or at trial to provide the evidence that will prove your facts but you must not put any evidence in your Statement of Claim.

Second important point, is that your version of facts, your story, should be in a concise form, it doesn’t need to be unnecessarily long or verbose. You should present your case in a concise manner.

Third point that you want to keep in mind is that the facts you want to tell in your Statement of Claim must be relevant facts. So, in this case, for instance, if Mary has, if Mary is a single mother with two kids that is not necessarily a relevant fact, so, you don’t need to put that. The case in this specific scenario is very simple, it doesn’t matter whether Mary has young kids or not, it doesn’t matter whether Mary is a single parent or not, if John has borrowed money and has not returned it, then Mary is entitled to it. So, having children, the ages of children these kind of things what kind of job Mary has, none of that is a relevant fact, so. you don’t need to put that in your Statement of Claim.

Similarly, you must plead material facts, so, facts that are material. So, these are the facts that you must prove in order to get the remedy that you’re asking. So, in this case a material fact is that John in fact borrowed money from Mary and so, it’s a material fact. The transfer of that money to John is a material fact. Whether John received that money as a loan or was it a gift that’s a material fact, so, you need to prove that it was actually a loan and it was not a gift to John and so, that’s a material fact. When was the money returnable, when was it due? That would be a material fact. So, those are the material facts, material facts are the facts that you must prove in order to get the remedy that you’re asking.

Now, in terms of the format each allegation that you’re making in your Statement of Claim must be in a separate paragraph as much as possible and then your Statement of Claim should have consecutively numbered paragraphs. So, let’s go to an example that I prepared here and see what does a claim look like. And I picked a very, very, simple … very basic example of a Statement of Claim so at least you can understand the concept.

The Statement of Claims could be very lengthy very complex depending upon the nature of legal and factual issues that it deals with, but we’re dealing with a very simple matter, so, that you can at least understand the concept. So, as I said, this is a Form 14A that I showed you and we typed in here Mary Kosner we wrote here she’s the plaintiff and then the cases against John Smith and he’s the defendant and then the rest of the verbiage is still the same as in the court form. And if you notice here, I’ve put in $2,500 for cost, so, if you pay the plaintiff’s claim which is it is talking to the defendant and twenty five hundred dollars for costs, which is in this case, we’re saying that Mary has incurred these many costs to prepare this claim, within the time of serving and filing your statement of defense you may move to have this proceeding dismissed by the court. So, that’s if the defendant is agreeable to paying what the plaintiffs ask for, in most cases that’s not the case.

Over here, as I showed you in the form, this is the place where the date is entered, generally speaking, you enter the month and the year and when you go to the court office physically the registrar will put in handwriting that day, that specific day of the month, but registrar usually fills out this information. You can fill it out if you’re going on the same date or you know which date you’re attending at the court office. This particular case is being issued in Toronto, so, you have Toronto’s court address, registrar who is issuing the claim will sign here there will be a signature of the registrar. Underneath it, you must have the defendant’s information, the contact information, the full address and if the defendant has a counsel then the lawyer’s information will go in there.

The first two sentences I showed you in the form and it’s here as well, this action is brought against you under the simplified procedure, provided in Rule 76 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, as I mentioned Rule 76 usually deals with matters that are $100,000 or less, there are some other conditions to be met but in this case because Mary loaned $100,000 and that’s the money that she wants back, she is issuing a claim under Rule 76, so, this language is required. If this language is not here, then the claim will be issued as an ordinary procedure and then process is slightly different. So, if you are issuing it under Rule 76 you must write that here.

Now, paragraph one is usually called the Claim for Relief, the Prayer for Relief, and in this paragraph essentially Mary is saying what is it that she’s asking the court to do. So, the plaintiff Mary Kosner claims against the defendant John Smith $100,000, which is what she paid and she wants it back, in trust and accordance with Courts of Justice Act. The Court of Justice Act allows for payment of interest from the date when the money was due back to Mary, so it could be either that date or it could be the date on which Mary commenced this court action, she can choose. There could be other interest if Mary, if the part of the agreement with John was that John will give the money back $100,000 plus let’s say 5% interest on that money, then Mary can actually claim that interest here, but this is sort of a very basic example that she’s claiming $100,000 and whatever interest she’s entitled to under the Courts of Justice Act.

Then item number three is cost. So obviously she is incurring some cost if she goes and consult with a lawyer, then the cost of the lawyer if she otherwise the disbursements, the cost of issuing the claim, photocopying, anything else, cost of service of the claim, so these are the costs that Mary is claiming.

And then item number four is a typical it’s a paragraph that you always include in a Prayer of Relief, which is such further and other relief as the honorable court deems yes. So, there may be circumstances when your at trial or before trial you wanted to add something with respect to your claim in terms of relief then you can leave that opportunity, this gives you the opportunity to ask that, and then the court may decide whether it’s appropriate, is it justified to give you or grant you that relief or not. So, this is sort of the Prayer of Relief.

And then comes the part where you’re telling your story and paragraph two indicates that the plaintiff and defendant two and three indicate the plaintiff and defendant both live in Mississauga, we’re assuming for the purposes of this court action that Ontario has the jurisdiction to deal with this matter and not another province or another country or another territory. So one of the things that the registrar will be looking at when reviewing the claim is to ensure that the claim has some relationship to Ontario. So, that’s why we have put in that both parties live in Mississauga.

And then some simple facts Kosner and Smith were childhood friends, which give the court a bit of a background in terms of why Mary lent $100,000 to John. And then, you provide on so and so date, Smith borrowed $100,000 from Kosner. We have put borrowing of $100,000, we have defined it as a loan, so, it’s with a capital ‘L’, and then you can use instead of repeating the loan of $100,000 you can simply say in the next paragraphs just the word “loan.”

And then Smith promised Kosner that he will return the loan by so and so date, Smith has failed to return the loan as promised and therefore Kosner is entitled to the relief that she’s asking. And then finally Kosner is asking the court to have this action tried in the city of Toronto, if that’s where she would like the matter to be dealt with. If she would like the matter to be dealt with, I believe in Mississauga then either it will be the Superior Court of Justice in Mississauga or Brampton I’m not to sure at this time, which particular municipality would deal with that. But those are, these are some of the basic facts and once you put those facts down, your Statement of Claim is ready … at the bottom, once again, you enter the date here and registrar will enter the date if you have not input here this is the date on which the claim is being issued, at this at this place you enter the plaintiff’s contact information.

And this is the back page of a Statement of Claim each court document has a back page which contains really the plaintiff’s information which goes here, the defendant’s information, again, the name of the defendant that goes here, court file number will be issued by the registrar and this will go here, and then at this place you will have the plaintiff’s contact information. So that’s essentially the Statement of Claim. When the registrar issues it the registrar will put a court file number here on the back page sign it, date it, and put a court stamp a Superior Court of Justice stamp in red here, and that indicates that the claim has been issued.

Okay, so, those are sort of the fundamentals of the same of claim we have in this lecture we have covered a number of rules that are relevant to the Statement of Claim essentially Rule 25 to 29 in the Rules of Civil Procedure deal with what the pleadings, Statement of Claim is a pleading, and so by all means check those rules out and you will get a better understanding of what these rules are.

Also we have specifically covered 25.01, 25.02, and 25.06, check those out. And once you have issued the Statement of Claim, you have the opportunity to amend it later if you wish to and there is a specific process specific procedure how you amend your pleadings or Statement of Claim and that’s described in Rule 26.

So, in essence, what you want to understand is your Statement of Claim is the most important document because what is contained in the Statement of Claim is really your claim and you cannot ask anything from the judge from the court that’s not already in your Statement of Claim. If you have to add something, you have the opportunity to amend the Statement of Claim, but the four corners of your pleadings of your Statement of Claim is really your case, so, it’s a very important document and you want to make sure that you draft it properly, it’s concise but it’s complete.

Also, you must know that depending upon what your case is, you need to understand or have a good knowledge of the underlying legal principles. On what legal principles is the court going to award you what you’re asking? In this case you know the legal principle is a Breach of Contract, there was a contract between the plaintiff and the defendant and the defendant breached that contract and so, she’s entitled to the monies right? So, it was a collection of debt scenario, but there could be other complicated situations in which you are dealing with and so, it is important for you to understand the underlying legal principles so, that you can draft your Statement of Claim properly.

And that’s why drafting a Statement of Claim may be one circumstance where you may want to seek legal advice either through a counsel, a lawyer, or a paralegal. And there are a variety of ways you can actually do that in this day and age. You can actually have a consultation with a lawyer or a paralegal prior to drafting your claim. Get an understanding of what needs to go in, what kind of legal principles you need to keep in mind, or you can draft it and then take it to a lawyer and ask the lawyer to review your Statement of Claim, if you don’t wish to retain the lawyer to draft the entire document. You also have the opportunity to retain a lawyer as a coach and the lawyer can give you advice on an as needed basis, so, those are called Unbundled Services. You have this ability nowadays to actually seek legal advice only to the extent that you need it. So something to keep in mind if that’s the direction you want to take, but the fundamental knowledge of what a Statement of Claim is about is important whether you are doing it yourself or whether using a legal counsel to help you out with that, because you will provide, even if it’s being done by a legal counsel, you will be the one providing all the facts to your counsel. And counsel ask you questions to make sure that he or she knows all of the relevant and material facts but a good knowledge, a good understanding that you may have about a Statement of Claim is always helpful.

Hopefully, this gives you a good understanding of a Statement of Claim or a basic understanding of the Statement of Claim, please send us e-mails or put some comments, so, that we can add more material and explain to you any specific issues that you may have in your mind with respect to Statement of Claims and then we’ll be happy to add that in the future lectures. Thank you for watching.

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