If you’ve been watching our video, “How do Civil Lawsuits Work in Ontario”, then you might have heard of the term, “Affidavit of Documents”. Although that phrase sounds like a confusing legal term, the concept of an Affidavit of Documents is fairly straightforward.
Plaintiffs and Defendants must ensure that they are both aware of the evidence which will be used in their Court cases. If you’re not sure about the difference between a Plaintiff and a Defendant, you can go back and watch our video.
You may have seen lawyers on television who reveal some important piece of evidence at the last possible moment in front of a Judge and Jury. However, in reality, lawyers must reveal all of the evidence that they have in their possession, and they must do so well in advance of any Court dates.
In a civil lawsuit, lawyers typically exchange evidence between each other by gathering all of the evidence in their client’s possession, making a list of all the items, and then organizing the evidence into a booklet called an Affidavit of Documents. This booklet is a serious Court document, and it must be signed by the lawyer and his or her client. The Affidavit of Documents could eventually be read by a Judge, and the Judge will expect that all relevant evidence has been included in each of the Affidavits of Documents from the Defendant and from the Plaintiff. Oftentimes, Court cases are decided based upon the contents of the Affidavit of Documents.
An Affidavit of Documents is divided into different sections. These sections are called “Schedules”:
The first section is called Schedule A, and that section contains a list of documents that are in the possession of the person who signed the Affidavit, and he or she is willing to show those documents to the lawyers involved in the case, as well as to the Court.
The second section is called Schedule B, and that contains a list of documents that the person who signed the Affidavit does not want to reveal. The legal term for these private documents are called “privileged documents”. An example of documents that are privileged and confidential are communications between a person and his or her lawyer.
The third section is called Schedule C, and that contains a list of documents that are relevant to the Court case, but have been lost, and are no longer in the possession of the person who signed the Affidavit of Documents.
If your lawsuit is in the Province of Ontario, and involves only one hundred thousand dollars or less, then your Affidavit of Documents will also have another section, which is called Schedule D. That section will contain a list of names and addresses of people who might to have personal knowledge about issues in the case. In other words, this section is essentially a list of witnesses.
Another important part of the Affidavit of Documents is called the Lawyer’s Certificate. This certificate is your lawyer’s way of telling the Court that he or she has explained your responsibility to reveal evidence in your possession, what kinds of documents would likely need to be shared, and the necessity to complete a witness list in some situations. In other words, a Judge may eventually want to know that you understand what an Affidavit of Documents is and how it works, and the Lawyer’s Certificate helps to confirm that your lawyer has done his or her job and properly informed you about this important type of Court document.