This March features two highly anticipated debuts: the new movie The Batman opens in theatres and exciting changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure come out in Ontario courts. Okay, “exciting” may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of civil procedure. But the changes to the Rules going into effect on March 31, 2022 may help alleviate some of the backlog that has burdened the courts since the pandemic began.
The adjustments to the Rules primarily involve pre-trial procedure and the service of expert reports. The following is a list of changes that really pack a punch:
POW! A pre-trial conference must be scheduled not more than 120 days and not less than 30 days before the anticipated first day of trial, whether it’s fixed trial or a trial sitting. (This applies to actions set down for trial on or after March 31, 2022.)
BAM! If the action is not settled at pre-trial, the presiding judge or associate judge may adjourn the date for trial or hearing, if necessary and subject to direction from the regional senior judge or one designated by that judge.
CRRAACK! If the judge or associate judge finds that a pre-trial conference was unproductive for reasons relating to a party’s conduct, the judge may require that costs be paid immediately.
WHAAPP! The party who files a trial record must include the pre-trial conference report and any orders made at the pre-trial conference.
Service of Expert Reports
SPLATT! At least 30 days before a pre-trial conference, each party must file a certificate of readiness indicating whether it intends to call on expert evidence. If it does, the party must indicate whether the expert’s report was property served to the other parties. If the expert’s report was not served as required, the party must provide the reason why.
SOCK! Parties may now consent in writing to extend or abridge the time for service of experts’ reports, as long as the scheduled trial date is not affected.
Leave to Admit Evidence to Trial
BANG! A party seeking leave to admit evidence at trial must satisfy the judge that there is a reasonable explanation for the failure to adhere to the Rules. This extra step is in addition to the continued requirements to satisfy the judge that leave will not cause prejudice to the opposing party, or undue delay in the conduct of the trial.
Cue the deep voice of the caped crusader: “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”
Yeah right, Batman. We just needed better rules. In fact, the changes to Rules of Civil Procedure aim to ensure that by the time parties reach the pre-trial conference, they are ready for trial and that expert reports will be delivered on time. Hopefully, these changes will get files moving and lead to earlier settlements and shorter, more efficient trials.
BOOM! A full list of changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure can be found here.
changes that really pack a punch