What is a civil case?

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A civil case is a lawsuit that usually deals with contracts and/or torts. Torts, generally speaking, are wrongful (negligent) acts that result in damage or injury.

Civil cases can occur by way of action or application. You must bring your case as an action, unless a statute or the Rules of Civil Procedure provide that you should bring your case as an application.

The information that follows generally describes the procedure for actions. For information on the applicable civil procedure, consult the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Note that claims valued at $25,000 or less can be heard in the Small Claims Court, which has its own procedures and rules. It is generally considered simpler and less expensive to bring a claim in the Small Claims Court than in the Superior Court of Justice. For information on bringing a claim in Small Claims Court, please visit the Small Claims Court section of the Ministry of the Attorney General website.

Cases involving some areas of law are dealt with by specialized bodies or are governed by specialized procedures. As a result, the information in this document may not apply to these types of cases. This document does NOT cover the following matters:

  • Family law (divorce, child custody and access, support)
  • Wills, estates and trusts
  • Disputes about a lawyer's bill
  • Complaints about a judge
  • Complaints about a lawyer
  • Complaints about a private bailiff
  • Landlord and tenant matters

For more information about these types of proceedings, visit the Justice Ontario section of the Ministry of the Attorney General website at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/justice-ont/.

Information about the Ontario Court of Appeal, Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice is available at: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/.

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