Who determines the procedure to follow in a civil trial ?
Going to court is risky business. There are advantages to going to a trial such as winning and winning costs, but there are risks too. In some cases, a personal injury plaintiff may potentially have their entire financial future riding on a single court judgment (or settlement). At trial the Judge or Judge and Jury will determine the issues including who wins or losses and what amount would be paid to a successful injured party.
With so much on the line, what can be done to ensure that such an important process is handled fairly and justly? Ensuring fairness in the outcome of a case begins with fairness in the procedure leading up to and during a trial. Court rules provide for a fair process.
Our injury lawyers carefully study the Rules of Civil Procedure before going to court. Information is key and educating our lawyers on the rules provides important information to reduce the amount of unknowns, and avoid the pitfalls of being caught off guard on a procedural issue that may arise before and at trial. These are some ways the rules provides all parties fairness in the process of litigating :
Rule 1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 1.04(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure lays down the general interpretive principle for all civil case rules :
These rules shall be liberally construed to secure the just, most expeditious and least expensive determination of every civil proceeding on its merits.
The justice system will adapt its rules as much as possible to ensure the fastest and most just resolution of problems before the court.
Discretionary powers of the judge
Rule 26.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure give discretionary power to a judge to allow changes to pleadings. This shows flexibility to allow the parties to modify their court filed documents to ensure that they properly represent the case even though circumstances might have changed the strategy and the claim itself :
On motion at any stage of an action the court shall grant leave to amend a pleading on such terms as are just, unless prejudice would result that could not be compensated for by costs or as an adjournment.
In other words, the judge can choose if he allows for such a modification. However, s/he will not do so if it would irreparably hurt the opposing party.
These are only a couple of examples of how the rules strive to protect all litigants. The underlying goal is to be as flexible as possible, to make sure that all legitimate claims are heard in a cost effective and expedient manner.
Our Ottawa personal injury and accident lawyers are specifically trained in civil procedure to help our clients gain every advantage possible in the litigation process within a very complex legal system.
If you or someone you care about was injured in an accident, please contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation. We work on a no-fee-until-you-win basis. Call us at 613-315-4878.