Rule 76 of the Rules of Civil Procedure was enacted into law in Ontario in 1996 to establish simplified procedures for a more efficient litigation process to deal with claims that were beyond the scope of the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court but not large enough to justify the typical costs of a lawsuit within the general jurisdiction of our Superior Court of Justice. The monetary ceiling for the use of the Simplified Procedure regime is currently $100,000. The Attorney General for Ontario has confirmed that the ceiling will be increased to $200,000 effective January 1, 2020.
Changes to the Simplified Procedure regime will take effect on January 1, 2020. The increase in the monetary ceiling to $200,000 will be accompanied by a number of additional changes:
- Trials will not exceed 5 days.
- All trials will proceed by way of a “summary trial”. The current option of proceeding by way of an ordinary trial, featuring testimony from witnesses at the trial hearing, will no longer be available.
- A pre-trial date will be set within 180 days of the action being set down for trial.
- Parties will have to agree on a trial management plan filed before the pre-trial hearing.
- Recovery of a litigant’s cost will generally be limited to $50,000, plus HST. Recovery of disbursements will be capped at $25,000, plus HST.
- The time limit for oral discovery will increase from two hours to three hours.
- Jury trials will no longer be permitted in Rule 76 actions.
The amendments aim to have more claims proceed by way of simplified procedure, in an attempt to foster cost-effective litigation and the economical use of judicial time. As many disputes in Ontario involve less than $200,000, we expect to see increased use of Rule 76 and perhaps also the use of our judicial system in cases where the parties might have otherwise been discouraged by the prospect of legal costs not warranted by the amount in issue. Claimants may also decide to abandon a portion of their claims to take advantage of the simplified procedures under the amendments to Rule 76.
Dale & Lessmann LLP, located in Toronto, Canada, is a full-service business law firm. David Mende heads the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group, and thanks Usman Javed, an articling student at the firm, for his assistance in the preparation of this note. To speak to David, please contact him at 416-369-7838 or by email at email@example.com.