Civil Law / Lawsuits

☆ ( Legal information on this page is NOT legal advice ) ☆

A civil case is a lawsuit that usually deals with contracts and/or torts. Torts, generally speaking, are wrongful (negligent) acts that result in damage or injury.

Note that claims valued at $25,000 or less can be heard in the Small Claims Court. It is generally considered simpler and less expensive to bring a claim in the Small Claims Court than in the Superior Court of Justice.

Going to trial to have a judge hear evidence and decide your case may be one of the most expensive ways to resolve your dispute.

Before starting a court case our lawyers and/or paralegals always consider other options such as:

1) Negotiation

2) Mediation

3) Arbitration


1) Negotiation

Parties can discuss the steps they could take to resolve their dispute. Negotiation can occur directly between the parties or indirectly through agents acting on behalf of the parties, such as lawyers.

Before you start a claim in court you might consider whether it would help to talk to the other party or send a letter to the other party to let that person know what you are seeking and why you feel they should do or pay what you want.

You may be able to settle your dispute with the other party to avoid the time and expense of going to court. This means that you may need to consider a compromise. Think also about the possibility that you might lose the court case and be ordered to pay the other party’s costs.

2) Mediation

Mediation is another way for people to settle disputes or lawsuits outside of court.

If you and the other party cannot reach an agreement, a mediator may be able to help improve communication and help you reach an agreement.

Mediators are neutral third parties who can help you agree on issues. A mediator helps you to work out a solution with the other party. A mediator will encourage compromise.

What are the benefits of a mediation session?

It allows the parties to work out their own solutions.
It may be cheaper and faster way to resolve a dispute than going to court.
It is a less formal process than court.
It is a private process, unlike court.
The information shared during a mediation session can be kept confidential and not available to media or other outside parties.
It may allow you to maintain your relationship with the other party. It may reduce future conflict by improving parties’ communication and problem solving skills.

Will I be forced to attend a mediation session?

Mediation is voluntary if it happens before a court case starts. You and the other party must be willing to try to work out a solution. You must both agree to the mediation.

If you do not mediate at the beginning of your civil dispute and decide to sue in court instead, you could still later participate in a mediation session.

During your court case you might be required to participate in a mediation session. Mediation is mandatory in most civil court cases in Toronto, County of Essex (Windsor) and Ottawa. Mediation is also mandatory in these three regions for contested estates, trusts and substitute decision proceedings..

How long is the mediation session?

The length of time of a mediation session, and the number of sessions required, will depend on many factors, such as:

Number and type of issues to be mediated
Amount of conflict between the parties
Degree of communication and cooperation among the parties.

Where is the mediation session held?

The mediation session may be held at any location that is convenient and acceptable to the parties, including the mediator’s office and the office of one of the parties or one of the lawyers.

Do we still need lawyers?

The mediator does not take the place of a lawyer. Each party is encouraged to get independent legal advice before and throughout the mediation process.

It is very important for you to know about your legal rights and obligations and how the law affects your issues. Each party should review the final mediated agreement with his or her lawyer before signing.

If you do not reach an agreement during mediation, you can start a court case or continue your court case.

Who attends the mediation session?

All parties should attend the mediation session. If a party is represented by a lawyer, the lawyer must also attend.

What happens during a mediation session?

Before the mediation session begins, the mediator explains the mediation process and reviews the terms of the mediation, which may be set out in a written “agreement to mediate”. Although mediation is an informal process, the mediator structures the discussion. All parties have a chance to present their side of the story, to explain what is important to them and to ask questions.

The mediator will help parties to reach a fair and lasting settlement. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions for the parties. Mediators cannot give you legal advice.

3) Arbitration

Arbitrators are neutral third parties.

Parties who arbitrate a case must agree to be bound by any decision made by the arbitrator. A decision made by an arbitrator is legally binding and enforceable against the parties. Arbitration is a less formal process than a trial and many people find it a more comfortable process than going to court.

What are the benefits of arbitration?

It can be a fast and effective way to reach a final resolution to a dispute.
It allows parties to choose who will decide their case. Parties can choose a decision maker who is an expert in the area at issue.
An arbitration hearing can be private and confidential. The parties can agree that the information from an arbitration will not be available to the media or other outside parties.

An arbitrator considers the evidence presented to him or her by the parties. The arbitrator cannot exclude evidence that a court would otherwise admit. Arbitration is governed by the Arbitration Act.