This section contains information on contracts and torts, suing and being sued, How do I find a lawyer or a paralegal?, the civil courts, mediation and arbitration, and landlord and tenant issues.
Suing and Being Sued
What is a civil case?
- A civil suit usually involves a dispute about the terms of a contract, or a claim for injury to a person, or their property or reputation (often defined as a tort). More
Is there an alternative to starting a lawsuit?
- There are many alternatives to suing that you may wish to consider before you start a civil case, and at any point after you bring your claim. More
What should I consider before deciding to sue?
- Before making a claim, there are a number of factors you may want to consider, for example, if you win will you be able to collect from the person/business. There are also a number of pieces of information you will need to collect. More
Who is involved in a civil action?
- In a civil action, the party who starts the lawsuit is a plaintiff, and the party who is being sued is the defendant. More
Which court should I start my claim in?
- Claims for money or the return of personal property valued below $25,000 can be started in Small Claims Court.
What information should I have to support my claim?
- You will have to prove your case. Consider what witnesses and/or documents you have to support you. More
When should I sue?
- There may be a time limit on how long you can wait before starting a lawsuit, which is set out in the Limitations Act. If you are uncertain about what limitation period applies to your case, you should consult a lawyer. More
How much will it cost me to start my claim?
- Fees are payable to the Minister of Finance upon filing a claim and for most steps in an action, such as filing a motion. More
How do I start a civil action in the Superior Court of Justice?
Frequently asked questions about civil appeals.
Looking for civil court forms for the Superior Court of Justice?
Frequently asked questions about suing and being sued.
How do I find a lawyer or a paralegal?
The Civil Courts
Small Claims Court
- Divisional Court reviews the decisions of administrative tribunals, which are groups that have the power to investigate complaints, such as school boards, police commissions and municipal boards.
- Divisional Court hears certain appeals from civil cases heard in the Superior Court of Justice, appeals of final orders from the Superior Court involving payment below a certain level and appeals from the Small Claims Court.
- Divisional Court also hears combined appeals, appeals of interim orders and final orders of masters and case management masters.
- Learn more about Divisional Court.
Court of Appeal
- The Court of Appeal for Ontario is located in Toronto, in the historic courtrooms within Osgoode Hall.
- Its function is to rule on "final" trial judgments, applications, and motions that have already taken place in lower courts. Although you cannot always appeal directly to the Court of Appeal, the lower courts with civil jurisdiction include Small Claims Court, Divisional Court and the Superior Court of Justice.
- The court deals with a range of issues including contracts, negligence, bankruptcy, criminal procedure, child custody, human rights and the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- The Court of Appeal sits in panels of one to five judges. Normally a panel of three judges decides each appeal. Motions are heard by one judge. There are no juries at the Court of Appeal.
- Learn more about the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
What is mediation?
- Mediation is one way for people to settle disputes or lawsuits outside of court. More
What is a mediator?
- A mediator assists parties to resolve issues in dispute. Mediators do not take sides or make decisions for the parties, nor do they provide legal advice.
What is the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program?
- This program applies in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor and is designed to help parties involved in civil litigation and estates matters attempt to settle their cases before they get to trial, thereby saving both time and money. More
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation has many benefits:
- Mediation can take less time, be more flexible, and cost less than going to court.
- Mediation often leads to resolutions that are tailored to the needs of all parties. Generally, the best solution to a problem is one worked out by the people themselves.
- Many people find mediation more satisfying than a trial because they play an active role in resolving their dispute, rather than having a solution determined by a judge.
- The mediation process is informal and completely confidential. Parties in mediation may speak more openly than in court. Many people find mediation a more comfortable and constructive process than a trial.
- In situations where the parties have an ongoing relationship, mediation is particularly helpful because it promotes cooperative problem solving and improved communication.
Where can I find more information about mediation?
What is arbitration?
- Arbitrators, like mediators, are neutral third parties. However, unlike mediation, parties who wish to arbitrate a case must agree to be bound by any decision made by the arbitrator. More
What are the benefits of arbitration?
Arbitration has many benefits:
- It can be a fast and effective way to settle your dispute
- It lets you choose who will decide your case, and
- You can ask that your hearing be private.
Landlords and Tenants
What are my rights as a landlord?
- The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties. The Landlord and Tenant Board administers the Act, resolves disputes between landlords and tenants, regulates rent increases in most residential rental units, and educates landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities under the Act. More information for landlords
What are my rights as a tenant?
- The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenant who rent residential properties. The Landlord and Tenant Board administers the Act, resolves disputes between landlords and tenants, regulates rent increases in most residential rental units, and educates landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities under the Act. More information for tenants
What does the Landlord and Tenant Board do?
- The Landlord and Tenant Board resolves disputes between landlords and tenants through either mediation or adjudication, regulates rent increases in most residential rental units, and educates landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act. More
Who can I talk to about the Residential Tenancies Act?
- You can call the Landlord and Tenant Board at 1-888-332-3234 from outside Toronto or 416-645-8080 from the GTA. More
My landlord is trying to kick me out. What can I do?
- A landlord can only end a tenancy for the reasons allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act. More
- To learn more about the eviction process, you can call the Landlord and Tenant Board at 1-888-332-3234 from outside Toronto or 416-645-8080 from the GTA. More
My landlord is trying to raise my rent. What can I do?
- The landlord cannot increase the rent for a new tenant until 12 months after the tenancy started. Then, the landlord is allowed to increase the rent once every 12 months. More
How is the rent on a rental unit decided?
- When a rental unit is vacant, a landlord and the person looking to rent the unit negotiate a rent and decide what services (such as hydro or parking) are included. More
My landlord won't fix things like my leaky rood or my fridge. What can I do?
- It is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the unit and ensure that it is in a good state of repair. More
Can a landlord come into my place?
- The Residential Tenancies Act allows a landlord to enter a tenant's unit only under specific circumstances. More
Can I stop my landlord from coming into my place?
- If the landlord enters the tenant's unit as allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act, the tenant cannot refuse to let the landlord in. More
What information should be included in a tenancy agreement?
- A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant in which the tenant agrees to pay rent for the right to live in a rental unit provided by the landlord. More
Is information on the Residential Tenancies Act available in other languages?
Yes, information on the Act is available in:
Where can I find out more about landlord and tenant issues?
Social Assistance Hearings
Looking for legal resources related to social assistance?
Laws and Regulations
Learn more about Ontario's laws and regulations.
Learn more about Canadian laws and regulations:
- The Government of Canada's Justice Laws website is your online source for consolidated Acts and regulations of Canada. More
Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII):
- CanLII is a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. CanLII's goal is to make Canadian law accessible for free on the Internet. More
Looking for Court addresses?
Looking for information about your upcoming court appearance? Access daily court lists here.
Visit our legal glossary for a basic guide to common legal terms.
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