1. Statement of Claim/Statement of Defence
A Statement of Claim is the document that commences a lawsuit in the Court of King’s Bench. It sets out the details of the claim such as who is making the claim, who the claim is against, the alleged facts relevant to the claim, and what relief is being sought.
After being served with a copy of the Statement of Claim, the Defendant then files a Statement of Defence. This document is the Defendant’s response and defence to the Statement of Claim and will set out their version of facts and events.
It may also be appropriate for the Defendant to file a Counterclaim or a Third-Party Claim. The Defendant would file a Counterclaim if he or she wishes to not only defend against the Statement of Claim, but also claim wrongdoing on the part of the Plaintiff. A Third-Party Claim would be used if the Defendant believes that someone else (besides the Plaintiff or Defendant) has some responsibility in the lawsuit.
2. Affidavit of Records
After both sides have properly filed and served their commencement documents, the Plaintiff is then required to provide to the Defendant all records in their possession that are relevant and material to the action. This commonly includes documents such as invoices, receipts, photos, and emails, etc. Anything that relates to the action must be disclosed.
After receiving the Plaintiff’s Affidavit of Records, the Defendant must also provide the same. The Defendant will review their records and provide to the Plaintiff everything in their possession that is relevant and material to the action.
After both parties have disclosed the necessary documents to the other side, the next step is to arrange for questioning. At this stage, the parties will have the opportunity to question each other on the records that have been produced. The purpose of this step is for both parties to gain a full understanding of the facts surrounding the case.
The parties have broad discretion in terms of what types of clarifying questions they may ask. They can range from asking what a certain document is and who created it, to why a decision was made and what the results were. If, during questioning, it is determined that relevant documents have not been provided, the questioning party can request that those documents be produced.
This questioning does not occur in a courtroom, but there is a court reporter present and the answers provided are given under oath. As a result, any admission gained from either party can be used as the matter proceeds to trial.
4. Dispute Resolution
Before a trial can be set, the court requires the parties to engage in some form of dispute resolution, the goal of which is to settle the matter without the need of a trial, should that be a viable option. Depending on the circumstances, the dispute resolution may take the form of mediation, arbitration, judicial dispute resolution, or some form of settlement conference. The vast majority of disputes resolve outside of court and never go to trial.
At trial, both sides will have the opportunity to present their arguments and their evidence before a judge. The most common and useful type of evidence given at trial is usually witness testimony. The side that calls the witness will ask the initial questions, and in so doing, attempt to establish their position and prove their case. The opposing party can then cross-examine that witness and attempt to undermine the answers they provided.
After hearing the arguments and reviewing the evidence, the judge will make a decision. The judge will only rely on the evidence presented at trial – they will not pursue outside information or consider evidence that someone claimed existed but was never produced. When the judge gives his or her decision, the trial is over, and barring some type of appeal, that decision is law.
This article is not intended to be legal advice and is for information purposes only. There may be certain exceptions to the above article, so please contact our office to discuss your matter specifically at 780-963-8181.