drafting a reply

Drafting a Reply: What You Need to Know

In Ontario, civil claims can be commenced at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The procedures and protocols for commencing most legal claims are outlined in the Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rules”). One of the most common ways to commence a lawsuit is by filing, issuing, and serving a statement of claim. In such cases, the one who started the claim would be the plaintiff.

A defendant named in your statement of claim must deliver their statement of defence in response. After the defence is delivered, you will have the opportunity as a plaintiff to draft and deliver a reply to the defense. 

What is drafting a reply? What should be included in a reply? What if you do not file a reply?  These are some important questions you might have as a plaintiff. This article will answer these questions and explain how a litigation lawyer can help.

What is a Reply? 

For most lawsuits in Ontario, a reply is a simple response to new allegations, facts or legal defences a defendant raises in their statement of defence. A plaintiff usually has 10 days to draft and deliver their reply to the other parties to their claim and file it alongside proof of service with the appropriate courthouse. 

While it is not mandatory to deliver a reply like it is to deliver a defence, a reply and defence to counterclaim is mandatory where a defendant makes a counterclaim against a plaintiff as part of the lawsuit. 

What Should Be Included in a Reply? 

The same requirements for pleadings from the Rules that apply to a statement of claim and statement of defence also apply to the reply. Importantly, a reply should not include:

  • Evidence in support of your case;                                                                                     
  • Legal submissions with supporting case law: 
  • Emotional reactions or personal opinions; and
  • Irrelevant information, insults or other statements that have little bearing on the case. 

A reply should specifically include concise statements of fact and basic legal arguments in response to the new points raised in the statement of defence. They are an opportunity for a plaintiff to either tell a different version of events than what is alleged by the defendant or otherwise provide additional relevant details. 

A reply is not an opportunity for a plaintiff to repeat what they said in their statement of claim, or go “back and forth” about whose version of events is correct with the defendant.  

As an example scenario: 

An employee files a statement of claim against their employer for wrongful dismissal. All they are alleging is that they were not paid sufficient severance and their unpaid wages on termination. The defendant’s statement of defence raises the additional factual allegation that the plaintiff viciously assaulted somebody in the workplace before they were terminated. 

The plaintiff in this scenario may want to deliver and file a reply not only denying the employer’s newly raised allegation but providing the important context that all they did was grab someone’s arm to prevent the person from falling over and incurring workplace injury. 

Providing this kind of clarification not only provides the Court with an explanation from the plaintiff’s point of view in response to a defendant’s allegations but also serves the strategic benefit of making the defendant look unreasonable or dishonest for trying to create an inaccurate narrative about the employee that was not originally raised in the statement of claim. 

What Happens If You Do Not File a Reply 

Whether you have to file a reply or not depends entirely on your unique circumstances. By default, if you do not file your reply, you will be deemed to deny everything pleaded in a statement of defence automatically. You do not need to file a reply to officially refute everything said in a statement of defence.

However, in some cases a reply can be strategically important to prevent a defendant from building a narrative against you in Court. If you do not address the statements in the defence with clarifying details or your version of events in a reply, the Court might not let you raise arguments doing so afterwards. 

Further, in some cases, if you fail to deliver a reply and defence to counterclaim, a defendant may be able to note you in default and seek default judgment against you for the amounts they are seeking in their counterclaim. While default judgment can usually be set aside with a motion, it can be costly and time-consuming. 

Determining whether it is appropriate for you to file a reply and what it should include can get complicated. Self-represented litigants can access some free resources through both the Ministry of the Attorney General and free legal databases  like CanLii.

While self-representing can be cheaper, only a litigation lawyer can assess your case and give you expert advice relating to your lawsuit. They can also help you determine the best legal strategies for your lawsuit, negotiate a settlement with the other parties, and generally guide you through the complex legal process. 


defending allegations

In Ontario, a reply is something a plaintiff in a lawsuit can deliver and file with the Court to address new allegations, facts or legal defences raised in a statement of defence. While a reply is not necessary in every case, they must be prepared and delivered in accordance with the Rules.

Not every case needs a reply, but determining whether you should draft and deliver a reply depends on the unique facts of your lawsuit. A litigation lawyer can help you determine whether a reply is necessary while providing you with the advocacy and expert advice you need to maximize your chances of achieving your desired result.

Contact Achkar Law 

If you have questions about or need assistance with a civil claim, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist. 

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