What is a Statement of Claim

Statement of Claim: What You Need to Know

Both employers and employees should understand how they can commence a civil lawsuit where necessary. A common way to commence a legal proceeding is by filing a statement of claim with the appropriate courthouse, and serving the issued statement of claim on the individuals you are suing. 

If you are self-represented, you may be wondering what a statement of claim even is and when you should file a statement of claim. You may have also received a statement of claim and have questions about the next steps. This article will answer these questions, and explain how a litigation lawyer can help. 

What is a Statement of Claim?

In Ontario, a statement of claim is the originating process in legal proceedings for claims exceeding $35,000.00 in monetary value. This means you must prepare and file a statement of claim with the Court, and serve the Court’s issued copy of the statement of claim on the defendant(s) to start a legal proceeding. 

The statement of claim is the foundation of your legal claim and should:

  • Provide a simple and clear understanding of the claims for remedies and damages you are seeking against the defendant(s); 
  • Serve as formal notice of the lawsuit; and 
  • Set out the framework for the rest of the legal proceedings, if needed. 

The statement of claim typically must include the following information:

  • Clear and concise statements indicating what remedies you are asking the Court for, which can include a variety of requests for orders and claims for damages;
  • Relevant background information and basic argument to provide the necessary context for the legal basis of the claim; and
  • Clear identification of the parties and their respective roles in the dispute. 

The statement of claim must not include:

  • Evidence you want to submit in support of your claim;  
  • Detailed submissions or supporting case law about how the law applies to your case; 
  • Your personal opinions or emotions about the legal dispute; or
  • Any insulting, inappropriate, or unrelated information irrelevant to your legal claims. 

A statement of claim is arguably the most important legal document in a lawsuit. Failure to prepare the statement of claim properly and in compliance with the Rules of Civil Procedure could result in your claim being delayed, stayed, or completely dismissed by a Court. 

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As such, it is recommended that you consult with a litigation lawyer before taking steps to prepare, file, and serve the statement of claim. A litigation lawyer can help you determine what legal strategies to use, what to claim in your lawsuit, and assist with drafting your statement of claim to maximize the chances of achieving your desired outcome. 

If you believe that your rights as an employee have been violated, you may consider starting a lawsuit against your employer. In Ontario, filing a statement of claim with the appropriate Court is the first step toward starting a lawsuit.

Before you file a statement of claim, it is important to understand your legal rights and obligations as an employee. Most commonly, employees commence claims against their employers for wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, and violations of the Canada Labour CodeEmployment Standards Act, 2000 or the Ontario Human Rights Code

Employers may have claims against former employees for violations of things like breach of fiduciary duty or violations of restrictive covenants by a former employee.

Claims must be filed and (ideally) served within 2 years of the date a plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known they may have a legal claim against the defendant(s) to their claim. The Ontario Limitations Act, 2002 outlines the details of the limitation period to commence a civil proceeding in more depth. Failure to commence your legal proceeding on time may result in the Court dismissing your legal claim for delay. 

It is always best to consult with a litigation lawyer as soon as possible if you want to explore your legal options to enforce your rights or seek damages. Courts do not typically accept “failure to seek legal advice” as a reasonable basis for the delay in filing a statement of claim. 

What To Do If You Receive a Statement of Claim

If you are served with a statement of claim, you have a limited amount of time to respond. In Ontario, defendants are given a 20-day deadline to serve and file a statement of defence on the plaintiff or their lawyer. Defendants can also serve a notice of intent to defend, giving them an additional 10-day grace period to serve and file their defence.

Failure to serve and file a statement of defence within the deadline may result in the plaintiff noting you “in default”, resulting in the loss of your right to defend against the statement of claim. This could result in you being deemed to admit all the allegations against you in the claim.  You would also not be entitled to participate further in the legal process without bringing a motion to set aside the noting in default or default judgment against you. 

As such, it is important to recognize that these are formal court documents that must be completed in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure. Attempting to prepare them on your own can lead to mistakes and negative financial or legal consequences.

Conclusion

Whether you are an employer or an employee, you should know what a statement of claim is and why it is important. If you believe that your rights as an employee have been violated, you may consider starting a lawsuit by filing a statement of claim. 

A lawsuit can be a complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process with serious legal consequences. As such, both employers and employees benefit from consulting with a litigation lawyer as soon as possible if they want to file a statement of claim or have received one. 

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Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882.