Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New rules of Civil Procedure for Ontario courts

While those of us in the U.S. have been wringing our hands over the procedural reforms that both the Rules drafters and the Supreme Court have handed us over the past few years, our neighbors to the north have been busy crafting some new rules of their own.  These rules came into effect on January 1, 2010.

Three of these reforms are particularly interesting because they address perceived problems that have motivated reform here as well: lengthy and expensive discovery and role of the summary judgment procedure.

At summary judgment, a judge may now “weigh evidence, evaluate credibility, and draw inferences from the evidence  (Rule 20.04(2.1)) and can order oral evidence [mini-trial] with or without time limits (Rule 20.04(2.2).

On the discovery end, the rule addressing the general scope of discovery has changed from “relating to any matter in issue” to “relevant to any matter in issue,” (Rule 30.02(1)) thus narrowing the world of discoverable material.

The most interesting discovery reform is that Ontario has introduced a "proportionality" requirement in discovery, which I am reproducing in full:

Rule 29.2.03(1): In making a determination as to whether a party or other person must answer a question or produce a document, the court shall consider whether,

(a) the time required for the party or other person to answer the question or produce the document would be unreasonable;

(b) the expense associated with answering the question or producing the document would be unjustified;

(c) requiring the party or other person to answer the question or produce the document would cause him or her undue prejudice;

(d) requiring the party or other person to answer the question or produce the document would unduly interfere with the orderly progress of the action; and

(e) the information or the document is readily available to the party requesting it from another source.

The full set of rules, annotated to show the 2010 reforms are available here and the Ministry of the Attorney General gives a nice online summary here.

RJE



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