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Faster, More Affordable Civil Courts For Ontarians

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Faster, More Affordable Civil Courts For Ontarians

McGuinty Government Making A Difference Through Civil Justice Reforms

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario families now have access to a faster and more affordable civil justice system.

Last year, the Ontario government implemented dozens of civil court reforms that have resulted in increased access to justice, including:

  • Opening the Small Claims Court to settle civil disputes of up to $25,000 (an increase from $10,000)
  • Offering a streamlined procedure for civil disputes between $25,001 and $100,000 (formerly $10,001 to $50,000)
  • Making it easier to eliminate frivolous cases
  • Limiting costly pre-trial procedures to save time and money 
  • Requiring that the cost of each case be proportional to the amount that the case is worth
  • Introducing the Court Forms Assistant to make it easier to fill out Small Claims Court Forms online.

In 2010, the Superior Court of Justice dealt with 11,652 fewer civil actions, a 17 per cent decrease from 2009, and the Small Claims Court dealt with 6,337 more actions, an 11 per cent increase from 2009. With thousands more civil actions heard in Small Claims Court in 2010 than in 2009, and thousands fewer heard in the Superior Court of Justice during the same period, cases moved from the slower, more expensive system to one that is faster and more affordable. This means that more people settled their disputes faster and at less cost.

A straightforward, more efficient and affordable justice system is part of the government's Open Ontario plan to provide accessible and consistent justice services for all Ontarians.

Quick Facts

  • The reforms were made as a result of former Associate Chief Justice Coulter Osborne's report on the civil justice system and advice the Attorney General received directly from Ontarians.
  • Examples of everyday money disputes that can be resolved in Small Claims Court include failure to pay for goods and services, not paying back a debt and damage to property.
  • Over 27,000 Small Claims Court forms have been accessed through the new Online Court Forms Assistant.

Background Information

Additional Resources


“A faster, more affordable civil justice system is resulting from the improvements we are making. Our changes are saving Ontarians time and money.”

Chris Bentley

Attorney General

“I am happy to see that the implementation of the recommendations of the Civil Justice Reform Project has led to generally positive results.”

Coulter Osborne

former Associate Chief Justice

“The Civil Justice Reform Project has been an important and significant step forward in access to justice. We applaud the Attorney General for initiating long-needed reforms and look forward to working with him on future initiatives.”

Peter Griffin

2nd Vice President, The Advocates' Society

“Making the civil justice system more affordable and accessible is no small task, but the progress we have seen under the 2010 civil justice reforms has proven that this goal is achievable. We look forward to continuing to work with government as further improvements roll out in the year ahead.”

R. Lee Akazaki

President, Ontario Bar Association

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