Canadian Civil Procedure/Structure of a Case

Structure of a civil action


1 - Advising a client

2 - Commencing an action The plaintiff must submit an Originating Notice to the proper court.

3 - Pleadings

4 - Discovery A "discovery" is where both parties perform their own investigations of the parties involved in the suit. This usually involves each side interviewing the opposing party under oath. Sometimes third-parties to the case will be interviewed as well. Once the investigations are complete the opposing parties must exchange their records so that both parties have the same knowledge of the facts.

5 - Settlement At this stage it is required that both parties discuss the possibility of coming to a settlement. With the discoveries done, it is usually clear on what the trial would turn on and the outcome can often be anticipated. A majority of parties settle at this stage resulting in a "disposition without trial".

In the unlikely event that the parties would like to continue with the lawsuit, the judge will set a trial date upon which the parties will be able to argue their case in front of the judge.

6 - Trial The Trial process involves each side to present their evidence and argument in front of a judge. The exact ordering of events can vary on circumstances but typically the trial goes as follows:

  1. Plaintiff's opening statement
  2. Plaintiff calls evidence
  3. Possible motion to dismiss
  4. Defence's opening statement
  5. Defence calls evidence
  6. Defence closing statement
  7. Plaintiff's closing statement

7 - Decision Once the judge had heard all the evidence, he or she will either give their opinion orally from the bench or else will "reserve" their judgement. A reserved judgement means that the judge will give the judgement in writing at a later date, within six months of the trial date.

8 - Enforcement

9 - Appeal