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What to Do if you Get Sued?

Getting sued can be a stressful process. This makes it essential to consult legal counsel whether you are filing a lawsuit or are the subject of one. A lawsuit that arises when two or more parties disagree on a legal issue is known as a civil case. The “parties” involved do not always have to be people. The parties might be in the form of individuals, groups of individuals, companies, or other entities.

Civil lawsuits might pertain to a wide range of topics. This includes disputes regarding contracts, personal injury claims, property damage claims, and reputation damage claims (also known as defamation).

A statement of claim, which is intended to clearly set out the specific circumstances of the lawsuit and the legal rationale as to why the claimant should be entitled to compensation, must be prepared and filed in order to initiate a civil case. We refer to this as an “action.”

What are the Steps I need to take if I get Sued?

It is highly important to sufficiently understand the civil process if you are sued in Ontario, so that you can best defend your interests.

The first step is to file a Statement of Defence. You typically have 20 days from the date you receive a Statement of Claim to file a Statement of Defence. In this document, you address the accusations put against you. It is highly important that you file a timely and well-written defence since not doing so could lead to a default judgment being entered against you.

The next step deals with pleadings. The plaintiff submits a Statement of Claim, and the defendant replies with a Statement of Defence. These documents set the foundation for the legal arguments and facts to be presented in the legal proceedings. The Statement of Defence is part of the pleadings phase, which where both parties state their views.

Well-written pleadings are essential because they succinctly put forth the legal issues for trial and help ensure that you can adequately present your defences. Once pleadings are submitted, they cannot be changed without the Court’s approval. As such, accuracy, precision, and thoroughness are of the essence in these cases.

The next step is discovery. Following the pleadings, both parties can obtain evidence from one another during the discovery phase. This includes cross-examination of the opposing party under oath during oral examinations, or examinations for discovery. The information gathered during discoveries is used to strengthen your case and get ready for trial.

Following this, there will be the cross-examining of the parties for evidence. This procedure enables you to question the other party and obtain the pertinent documents. In many cases, this frequently results in settlements before trial.

What is a Default Judgment?

The claimant may request that the Court might note you in default. This indicates that you are no longer eligible to participate in the court case because you did not submit a response in a timely manner. After that, the plaintiff may request that the Court order you to give them the money that they are requesting. We refer to this as requesting a default judgment.

Can I represent myself?

Yes, you have the right to represent yourself in Court, but it is not necessarily recommended. Consulting a lawyer is critical. It is important for you to consult a legal professional to help ensure that your defence is properly drafted and that you raise all feasible arguments and defences. Counsel can also advise you on how strong of a case they think you have, the potential risks of proceeding with this lawsuit, and potential legal strategies.

What happens if you lose a lawsuit and are unable to make payment?

In the event that you fail to make payment within the specific time frame noted in the judgment, the other party may have a bailiff seize your wages, property or other assets, and the bailiff’s expenses will be mounted onto the remaining sum of money owed.

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What is the difference between Small Claims Court and the Superior Court of Justice?

If you are planning to sue for the monetary sum of $35,000 or lower, or for the return of personal property valued at $35,000 or less (not including interest and costs) you might want to initiate your claim in Small Claims Court.

You should initiate your case in the Superior Court of Justice if you are seeking monetary compensation for damages valued at over $35,000. You might also want to initiate your case in the Superior Court of Justice if you are asking for an order of a certain type that can only be issued by a Superior Court judge.

Cases dealing with certain areas of law are addressed through specialized bodies. These special areas of law might be governed by special procedures.

Some examples of a specific type of order would be an “injunction”. This is an order that compels someone to perform certain actions or abstain from them. For instance, the SCC set out requirements for issuing an injunction in RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General). Here, the notions of irreparable harm and convenience were taken into consideration and balanced against one another. In Ontario, requests for injunctions in civil disputes—such as orders prohibiting the sale of assets while litigation is pending or restraining orders in domestic situations—can be often heard by the Superior Court of Justice.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.