Civil procedure in Canada

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In Canada, the rules of civil procedure are administered separately by each jurisdiction, both federal and provincial. Nine provinces and three territories in Canada are common law jurisdictions. One province, Quebec, is governed by civil law.[1]

In all provinces and territories, there is an inferior and superior court.[1] For certain matters, jurisdiction lies at first instance with the Federal Court of Canada. In all cases, the final court of appeal is the Supreme Court of Canada.[1]



Ontario's civil procedure is governed by its Rules of Civil Procedure. Its stated aim is "to secure the just, most expeditious and least expensive determination of every civil proceeding on its merits."

The Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure have been largely adopted by Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories.[citation needed]


Quebec is Canada's only civil law jurisdiction.[1] Therefore, its rules of civil procedure are distinct from the rest of the country.[1] In 2003, Quebec introduced a series of changes to its civil law, where it eliminated the statement of claim.[1] Instead, all actions are brought by way of motion.[1]

Inherent jurisdiction[edit]

The courts may also exercise inherent jurisdiction to control their own processes, but inherent jurisdiction cannot be exercised so as to conflict with a statute or rule. As a result, if a process has been contemplated by the civil procedure a court does not have the authority to alter or dispense compliance with that process.

The noted exception to the required compliance with the civil procedure is that the rules themselves often contain a rule which permits a court to

only where and as necessary in the interest of justice, dispense with compliance with any rule at any time.

The onus is on the party seeking to dispense with compliance with a rule to demonstrate that it is in the interest of justice.[2]

Alternative dispute resolution[edit]

Alternative dispute resolution proceedings and administrative law proceedings both tend to have relatively simple rules of procedure, in comparison to the highly formalized procedures seen in the federal and provincial courts.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Grubbs, Shelby R.; North, Peter Machin; Group, World Law (2003-01-01). International Civil Procedure. Kluwer Law International. ISBN 9789041120946. 
  2. ^ Supreme Court of Canada, Gustovson Drilling, 1976