If you’ve been served with a “Statement of Claim” in Ontario, you’ll probably want to find yourself a lawyer to put together a “Statement of Defence” (Form 18A).
There’s a lot to keep in mind about understanding what goes into a Form 18A:
First, you get one kick at the can, so to speak. In other words, after your defence has been filed in court, it becomes very difficult to change it later. Changing will require either the permission of the Plaintiff, or a judge. Therefore, it’s important to get it done right the first time. If you try to do it yourself, or you hire a lawyer who doesn’t focus solely on civil litigation, you’ll end up spending a lot more time and money later trying to repair the errors. Our civil litigation lawyers have drafted several hundreds of these types of documents, and we also use industry-leading software, leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to give us an unfair advantage.
Second, there are important deadlines to follow, and missing these deadlines can result in you losing the right to defend yourself. You typically have 20 calendar days to file a Statement of Defence in court, but this deadline can be extended by an additional 10 calendar days if your lawyer files a form 18B “Notice of Intent to Defend”. Also, depending on the geographic locations of the parties, the timelines could be longer.
Third, failing to file a defence altogether could get you “noted in default”. After that, the Plaintiff can obtain something called “default judgment”, and the court would order you to pay the amount of money (or close to the amount of money) that you were sued for. Obviously, that’s something you’ll want to avoid.
Fourth, it used to be necessary to physically file these documents in court. Now, your lawyer can file them online, which cuts down on time and costs.
Fifth, the Form 18A will require you to specify exactly which paragraphs of the Statement of Claim that you (1) agree with, (2) deny, and (3) have no knowledge of. If you’ve taken a look at the Statement of Claim you were served with, you’ll notice that the lawsuit’s fact scenario has been articulated in numbered paragraphs. Therefore, your Statement of Defence will refer to each of those numbered paragraphs and you will be expected to indicate your position about each numbered allegation against you. Your Statement of Defence will also be your chance to tell your side of the story, put forth the facts as you believe to be true, and explain how the law favours your side (assuming the law favours your position at all). Beware, if this exercise is done incorrectly, you could end up saying something in your Statement of Defence that results in you losing your case. It’s just like accidentally talking too much when you’ve been arrested, it’s usually best to let your lawyer do the talking.
You can book a phone call with one of our civil litigation lawyers by clicking here.
You can also upload your documents online by clicking here. Please note that uploading your documents does not mean that our lawyers will necessarily accept your case. A consultation with a civil litigation lawyer is required, but this upload link is provided for your convenience. Uploading documents does not create a solicitor-client relationship.