Changes to Civil Justice System – Will they provide access to justice?

On January 1, 2010, the Ontario civil justice system underwent a major overhaul.

Some of the major changes include:

a. Raising the Limits on General Damages – The limit for a claim in the Small Claims Court will be raised from $10,000 to $25,000.

b. Raising the Simplified Procedure Limit on Damages – Currently, the limit to have claims tried under the Rules of Simplified Procedure is $50,000. This limit will be increased to $100,000.

c. Limiting Examinations to One Day

d. Litigation Management – The parties involved will have a greater responsibility for moving the matter forward in a timely fashion. The new rule however, will not apply to claims made in Toronto, Ottawa, and Windsor.

e. Greater Proportionality in Fees – The new changes will encourage judges to award costs for legal fees on a basis relative to the claim.

f. Modified Cost Rules for Summary Judgments – Judges will have greater discretion when awarding costs stemming from the same type of motion which will rely more on the appropriateness for summary judgment instead of the outcome.

A useful article in the Law Times, examines the issue and concludes that since the Province doesn’t plan on spending more money in the small claims system, the delays will become increasingly prohibitive.

In redesigning the rules, the government may have simply traded one set of problems for another. Ironically, many of the new rules may actually end up costing litigants more money and taking their cases longer to resolve. Here are some of those problems for workplace legal disputes:–new-rules-may-not-be-as-employee-friendly-as-planned

An e-copy of the new rules is available on the Government website e-laws.

Daniel A. Lublin is an employment lawyer with the law firm Whitten & Lublin LLP, focusing on the law of dismissal.  Daniel can be reached at [email protected].