Key Differences Between The U.S. and Canada In Civil Litigation Cases

civil litigation suits

As Canadians, we often find ourselves being compared to the U.S in multiple areas of our lives. While things like recreational activities and sports might be a simple “who’s better” situation, our legal systems are very different. 

We have decided to highlight the key differences between American and Canadian law, specifically for cases involving civil litigation. 

Canadian Jury Trials 

Although the U.S and Canada are geographic neighbours, there are many differences when it comes to the way each country handles its civil litigation suits. For example, in Canada, jury trials are rarely available for civil cases. 

There are many reasons why jury cases are not readily available for civil suits, but there have been cases to suggest that juries can be biased towards insurance companies and, in some cases, be particularly hard on plaintiffs. This was most prominent in the 2009 case, Mandel x. Fakhim, where the plaintiff sought $1.2 million in damages and was only awarded $3,000 after a car accident. 

Furthermore, jury cases are far more costly than judge-alone cases and take much more time to be heard.  Having jurors also puts a strain on the economic system that is hard to justify in civil cases.

Examination For Discovery & Discovery Stage

In Canada, a deposition is called an “Examination for Discovery” and the scope of verbal discovery is far more limited than that allowed in the U.S. 

For example, in Canada, only one corporate representative may be examined where a corporation is a named party.

Also, Canada and the U.S. have different standards for what is discoverable in an action. In Canada, a document must be disclosed if it is relevant to a matter at issue in the pleadings, whereas in the U.S. a document is discoverable so long as it is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. 

From this, we can see that the U.S. standard is much broader and the volume of information exchanged between parties is often higher than it would be in Canada.

Contrasting Appeals

In Canada, a provincial Appeal Court is not the final decision maker of provincial law; the Supreme Court of Canada has full authority to decide matters of provincial and federal law. 

This is different in the U.S where each state can implement laws that will govern the said state, without the need for federal approval.

Witness Objections

In contrast to the U.S, any witness on the stand in a Canadian court case is not generally required to answer questions that have been subject to an objection by the opposing party. 

There are many stipulations to this as it depends on the court rules that have been put in place, but in comparison to the U.S, there is a substantial exposure to a witness to answer questions. 

Conclusion

Here at Epstein & Associates, we are always willing to help you prepare for your civil case and answer any questions you may have. 

Please feel free to contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation and speak with one of our lawyers to see how we can assist you today.

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