Civil proceedings don’t arise on a person’s best day. Often, a party feels they’ve been wronged by someone, and they want their day in court to hold the wrong-doer accountable. When preparing pleadings, some parties want their lawyer to air the other party’s dirty laundry, creating a novel outlining every wrong committed. What these clients don’t realize is how detrimental this can be to their case.

What are Pleadings?

Pleadings provide a basic outline of the facts and allegations a party is planning to rely on for their claim or defence. They are meant to provide an outline that is to later be filled in through the discovery process. One can think of pleadings as the synopsis on the back cover, rather than the whole novel itself.[1]

What can be Included?

The Rules of Pleadings set out a number of things that can and cannot be included. For example, evidence cannot be included. A point of law may be raised, but a conclusion of law can only be pleaded if the material facts in support of it are as well. Inconsistent allegations may be made, provided it is made clear that they are being pleaded as alternatives. If a pleading contains a claim for relief, the nature of such must also be included. The amount claimed regarding damages must be included. For special damages, amounts and particulars only need to be pleaded to the extent that they are known at the date of the pleading.

What if These Rules are Breached?

If a pleading is found to be manifestly unfair, the court can strike out all or part of it. This can be exemplified by the case Taylor v Canada Cartage Systems Diversified GP Inc.[2] in which the judge struck out a pleading in its entirety because he found it was wholly deficient. As stated in the case Wilson v Wilson[3], “if the only purpose of the pleading is to cast the opposing party in a bad light, it will be struck.”

Civil proceedings are meant to be just that – civil. If a party uses their pleading as a means to expose a laundry list of conspiracies, gossip or allegations that only serve to diminish the opposing party’s character, the proceeding becomes uncivil from the start. Not only will this make the proceedings more adversarial than necessary, but there is a chance that the court will strike out the pleading all together.

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This WARDS LAWYERS PC publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. Specific or more information may be necessary before advice could be provided for your particular circumstances.

[1] Pineau v Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. 2011 ONSC 5822

[2] 2018 ONSC 617

[3] (1948) OJ No 62 (HCJ)

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