Effective January 1, 2020, there will be significant changes to how litigation is conducted for claims that fall under the Simplified Procedure under rule 76 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Small Claims Court matters. The amendments aim for faster and more affordable means for parties to resolve their disputes.
Most notably, the monetary jurisdiction for Simplified Procedure matters will be increasing from $100,000 to $200,000. The claim limit for Small Claims Court is increasing from $25,000 to $35,000, and the minimum amount that can be appealed from Small Claims to Divisional Court has increased from $2,500 to $3,500.
Time Limit for Examination for Discovery
Simplified Procedure actions currently limit oral examinations for discovery to be conducted by each party to a total of two hours. In line with the increase in monetary jurisdiction, the amendments will increase the time limit for oral discovery from two to three hours.
There will be a restriction on the costs that a party may recover under Simplified Procedure. No party may recover costs exceeding $50,000 or disbursements exceeding $25,000, exclusive of HST (notwithstanding the costs consequences of non-compliant actions within the monetary jurisdictions of the Rules of Civil Procedure).
Other efforts to streamline and reduce the cost of litigation of Simplified Procedure include:
- Trials are not to exceed 5 days
- Jury trials will no longer be permitted in Rule 76 actions (outside of actions of slander, libel, malicious arrest or prosecution, and false imprisonment)
- Parties are to agree on a trial management plan, 30 days prior to the pre-trial, that contains, inter alia, a list of all witnesses (including experts), and a division of time of opening statements and oral argument
- The proposed trial management plan is to be filed at least 5 days in advance of the pre-trial conference
- All Simplified Procedure trials will proceed as summary trials (as opposed to the option to select between an ordinary or summary trial)
The changes, including the new limit on costs and disbursements and monetary jurisdictions, will not apply to actions commenced before January 1, 2020. However, litigants who started an action in the Superior Court can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court if the action falls within the monetary threshold.