Starting a Civil Action in Ontario: 3 Basic Steps

Share this:

If you wish to start a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, you have to undertake specific steps. These steps are governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure. This lecture explains these steps in simple and easy to understand language.

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.


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Machine Transcription:

Welcome everyone this is Amer Mushtaq from YouCounsel.

In today’s lecture we will talk about three basic steps that you need to take in order to start / commence your civil court action in Ontario, in the Superior Court of Justice.  We will talk about the very first step in the whole civil action process which is the commencement of your court action.  What is it that you need to do to get inside the court system? We commence always with the disclaimer that this course is not legal advice.  It’s purely for legal knowledge.  If you have any specific questions about your issues you must contact a lawyer or a paralegal.

Step 1: We will explain this process the commencement of the court action with an example.  Let’s say Mary loaned $100,000 to John.  John then refused to pay that money back.  Let’s say he was required to pay that back within a year’s time.  He has not returned that money and Mary is at a stage where she needs the court’s help—she needs to get a court order against John so that she can get her money back.  If that’s the example, what is it that Mary needs to do to enter the court system?  Mary needs to follow a certain process to actually go and eventually tell a judge that John has done this wrong against her and she needs some remedy from the court system.  How does she even enter the court system?—that is the subject of today’s lecture.  (a) First thing Mary needs to understand is that there are basically two legislation that are relevant to her case (there are more or there could be more) but the fundamental ones are the Courts of Justice Act and then underneath the Courts of Justice Act there are regulations called Rules of Civil Procedure.  If you have followed our previous lecture, we have talked about Rules of Civil Procedure in many other lectures.  If you want to learn more about the Rules generally, and listen to those lectures check those lectures out and you will get a better understanding of the framework of these Rules.  For the purpose of today, what you want to understand is that Rules of Civil Procedure provide the mechanism which Mary has to follow to enter into the court system in Ontario and Superior Court of Justice.  That mechanism (those Rules) will guide her all the way to Trial and how she gets a judgment against John.  It is fundamental for Mary to follow these Rules, understand them, abide by them and when the circumstances require to go around those Rules and she has to lawfully do that.  Both the Courts of Justice Act and the Rules of Civil Procedure are available online for free.  All you have to do is type into Google “Rules of Civil Procedure, Ontario” and you will find those Rules.  (b) What are the steps that Mary needs to undertake to even start the court action?  She has to fill out certain forms.  Form 1 that she has to fill out is called the Information for Court Use form.  Second document that she has to prepare is called the Statement of Claim. There’s also a form for that. The third thing she has to do is, she has to provide the court with certain fees for the court to allow the commencement of her court action.  Those are simply the three basic steps that Mary needs to do and then her court action will commence.  She will get the Information for Court Use form fill that out; then she will prepare her Statement of Claim.  A Statement of Claim basically is a document in which Mary is putting her story—her version of the facts in writing telling the court what remedy she wants and why does she want it.  It’s as simple as that.  What is it that she wants the court to do in this case?  She wants the court to award $100,000 against John—that is what she wants.  Then obviously she wants her costs because she is incurring some cost to get all the way through the trial and so she will ask the court for those costs.  She may ask the court for interest on the payment—from the time that it was due.  That’s what she wants. She wants from the court judgment against John and why does she want it? She has her own story and her story will be that “on such and such date I gave a loan of this money to John.  John was supposed to return it on so and so date.  He has refused to do.”  We will in a separate lecture talk about filling out of the Information for Court Use form and the Statement of Claim.  In this lecture we are basically telling you the three steps and then will go over each step separately at least the first two steps, the third part is rather easy.

The question will arise that where do you find these court forms?  The answer is they are also available online.  You type in “Rules of Civil Procedure forms” in Google and you will see that the Ontario Government has made these forms available online. All of the forms that relate to the Rules of Civil Procedure are here on this website.  You can click on the word format and you will have that document open.  You can fill it out as you need to. What about the fees? Where do you find the fees? Again you go back to Google and you type in “court fees, Ontario”.  You will see this—Regulation (O. Reg. 293/92) Superior Court of Justice and Court of Appeal Fees.  In this Regulation the government has laid out what are the fees for what.  Stop.  When you scroll down and read:

Section 1. The following fees are payable, except in respect of proceedings to which section 1.2 applies:

      1.  On the issue of the following:

             (i) A statement of claim, notice of action or notice of application, $220.

Essentially, if Mary is commencing a court action which is through a statement of claim or through a notice of action, then she will be paying the court $220.  She can take a money order, I believe she can pay by Interac or by credit card at the court office.  Mary has to go physically to the court office depending upon which municipality she lives in.  If it’s in Toronto, then she goes to 393 University Avenue on the 10th floor, lines up, carries one copy of the Information for Court Use Forms; carries two copies of the statement of claim that she has printed and then provides that money (fees).  What the court will do is they will keep the Information for Court Use form in the court system. They will issue a court file number for her statement of claim.  The Registrar at the window will actually physically write down the court file number on the Statement of Claim, put a stamp on the face of the statement of claim (on the very first page is a red color stamp), sign the statement of claim and then enter a date of the issuance of the claim.  Those are the four things that the registrar will do: entering in the system, put a stamp, give the court file number and sign it.  It takes five steps—and hands back the statement of claim, which is now issued from the court, to Mary.  Mary has to take certain steps: she has to go and serve that statement of claim on John.  At this point once the statement of claim is stamped and issued, has a court file number, signed by the registrar and dated—then her claim is issued.  She is now in the court system.

Okay, all of this information that I’ve given you is from the Rules of Civil Procedure.  My role here is to simplify things for you so you don’t need to directly go and decipher it from the Rules but I do want to tell you which Rules I had looked into so you can understand where all of this is coming from. Rules of Civil Procedure is the guiding rule book, the guiding rules.  Then we went through Rule 14 and Rules 14.01(1), 14.02 and 14.03. Let me quickly go through those Rules.  I can briefly tell you what those Rules say but the essence I have already provided that to you.  For Rules of Civil Procedure go to CanLii website.  And then if we scroll down to—we are talking about Rule 14, let’s go to the Table of Contents and scroll down to Commencement of Proceeding—which is the Rule and I have spoken about Rule 14—let us go down to Rule 14 and see what it says.  Rule 14 is titled Originating Process. Originating Process is actually the process when you commence the court action or an application—that is the starting (originating) process that’s what’s called originating process. 

Rule 14.01(1) says, “A proceeding shall be commenced by the issuing of an originating process.”

OK we get that.  If you scroll down, we’re talking about the Commencement of Proceeding by way of a court action.  What you want to know is in Rule 14.02 which says, “Every proceeding in the court shall be by an action…”—there is an action and there’s an application. Those are two different things and we have a separate lecture already available.  You can check that out. It says that” “Every proceeding in the court shall be by an action, except where a statute or these rules provide otherwise.”  And that’s where our other lecture explains what an application is.  Scrolling down you see that you can start a court action by statement of claim or notice of action  What I’m emphasizing or I’m advising you today is about commencing a court action through a statement of claim.  But you can also, and this is provided in 14.03. If you scroll down it tells you what a notice of action is.  You commence a proceeding with a notice of action only when there is insufficient time to prepare a full statement of claim and you’re in a time crunch.  You want to get to the court and file your notice of action. You file a very brief story, commence a notice of action and then within 30 days you have to prepare a statement of claim and serve it.  If you scroll down further, it talks about Information for Court Use form.  It actually tells you that Form 14F is the Information for Court Use form and what you have to do with that.

Those are the Rules for your learning.  If you want to read them in more detail, I have provided you with the link. The basic concept—that you have 3 steps to follow.  1. Prepare the Information for Court Use form; 2. Prepare two copies of the Statement of Claim.  Carry all these things along with 3. $220 (either in money order or you can pay by credit card or interac at the court office) and hand over to the Registrar.  The Registrar will review it briefly to make sure that the formality of those documents is correct.  The Registrar is not going to read the contents.  The main thing the Registrar will look at is to make sure that the case belongs to Ontario—you don’t live in British Columbia and John doesn’t live in British Columbia or elsewhere.  The facts of the case, i.e., the issues that are in dispute, really relate to Ontario.  That’s the main thing—that is the main concern.  If it does relate to Ontario, then you’re good to go.  The registrar will put a stamp, add a court file number, sign it put a date and give you back one copy and keep a copy of the claim and the Information for Court Use form for the courts own system.

Hopefully, this explains to you the very, very first step—this is how you actually get into the court system and Superior Court of Justice.  We will take further steps and explain the next process.  We will soon have a lecture on and how to fill out the Information for Court Use form, what is that for, what is the form about, etc. Similarly, we will have a lecture on drafting a statement of claim. 

If you have any questions about what we have discussed today please contact us.  Put your comments on YouTube.  They are very helpful.  Send us an email or contact us in the ways that are listed here.  We will be happy to add more information in future lectures. Thank-you for watching.

Share this:

Comments are closed.