A civil action begins when a party (the plaintiff) files a claim document called an originating process against another party (the defendant).
A Writ of Summons (Writ) is the most common example of an originating process. It is a formal document addressed to the defendant which serves to notify them of the proceedings.
Refer to the following for examples of civil actions and their respective time limits. Please note that the list serves as a general guide and is non-exhaustive. You may also refer to the Limitation Act for more information such as the date from which the time limit will commence.
If you are starting a...
You should file...
Within 6 years.
Within 6 years.
Personal injury action
Within 3 years.
Recovery of land and rent action
Within 12 years.
If you are the plaintiff, the amount you are intending to claim from the other party will determine which court you should file your Writ in.
This section describes the civil process for the following cases:
Refer to the following to find out about the civil process begun by a Writ.
File a request for a default judgment, if needed
You may enter a default judgment against the defendant if they do not respond to your Writ by filing a Memorandum of Appearance (MOA) within 8 days from receiving the Writ (the time limit for appearance). The filing of an MOA is also known as entering an appearance.
You may also enter a default judgment if the defendant does not file a defence within 14 days of the time limited for appearance.
Prepare the case for trial
The most common step after the close of pleadings is the discovery and inspection of documents. At discovery, parties are expected to disclose to each other documentary evidence.
The court may direct parties to attend a pre-trial conference relating to the matters arising in the action or proceedings. The court may also require you to file a summons for directions to state the further steps you and the defendant need to take to effectively prepare for trial.
File an interlocutory application, if needed
In further preparation of a case for trial, either party may also file interlocutory applications with the court. This is done by filing a summons, which should usually be supported by an affidavit.
Set down the action for trial
Once all pre-trial matters have been dealt with, you must set the case down for trial to inform the court that you and the defendant are ready to fix the trial dates.
File an appeal or enforce judgment or order, if needed
If you are not satisfied with the court's judgment or decision after the trial, you may file an appeal.
You may also take steps to enforce an order or judgment if the defendant does not comply with it.