Simplified Procedure gets simpler (or more complicated)
As of January 1, 2020, the rules governing Simplified Procedure under the Rules of Civil Procedure in Ontario will change. The highlights include:
- The monetary limit will increase from $100,000.00 to $200,000.00;
- The time limit for conducting oral examinations will increase from two hours to three;
- Trials will be limited to five days, by summary trial with evidence introduced by affidavit;
- Jury trials will no longer be permitted under Simplified Procedure; and
- Costs will be capped at $50,000.00, disbursements at $25,000.00.
$200,000.00 is a lot of money to most people and actions for these kinds of damages can easily involve any number of parties, particularly in the context of construction disputes or multi-party personal injury actions. Limiting discoveries to three hours, regardless of the number of parties involved, as well as limiting trials to five days, will put counsel in a crunch to proceed as efficiently as possible. One tool may be to use more requests to admit under Rule 51.02, as there is currently no limit on the number of requests that can be made. In addition, parties will need to make greater use of affidavit evidence at trial under Rule 76.12.
Rule 76.13 will continue to apply with respect to adverse cost consequences, notwithstanding the cap on costs. With respect to the cap on disbursements, litigants will need to think carefully before retaining a battery of expert witnesses. HST will continue to apply over and above the caps. Finally, the new costs regime will not apply to actions started before January 1, 2020.
Jury trials will still be permitted for actions below the $200,000.00 limit for slander, libel, malicious arrest or prosecution, and false imprisonment, but these must proceed as ordinary actions.
The ban on juries will not apply to jury notices delivered before January 1, 2020, so litigants should consider whether a jury notice may make for a perfect holiday gift for that special adverse party this coming December.