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Ontario Case Management (Rule 77)


Ontario Superior Court of justice rule which manages the time and events of cases as they pass through the justice system.

Implemented in Ottawa and Windsor; automatic application suspended in Toronto


Superior Court of Justice (Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor)

Body Responsible:
Civil Rules Committee

1988: Joint Committee on Court Reform called for caseflow management; pilot projects established subsequently
1993: Ministry of Attorney General concluded pilots were successful
1994: QUINDECA Corporation evaluation of caseflow management pilots
1995: First Report of the Civil Justice Review issued
1996: Civil Justice Review Supplemental and Final Report issued
1997: Implementation of Rule 77 in Ottawa and Toronto
2002: Implementation of Rule 77 in Windsor
2004: Automatic application suspended in Toronto.

Ontario, Rules of Civil Procedure, r. 77.
Ontario Case Management (Rule 77) Publications What’s New? Flowcharts summarizing the processes under the Rules of Civil Procedure in effect on January 1, 2010
Ontario. Ministry of the Attorney General, Case flow management: An assessment of the Ontario pilot projects in the Ontario Court of Justice (Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 1993).
What’s New? Flowcharts summarizing the processes under the Rules of Civil Procedure in effect on January 1, 2010
Fact Sheet: Civil Case Management: Rule 77 (Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 2007).
Chief Justice Heather J. Smith, Practice Direction: Judicial Management of All Civil Proceedings Not Governed by Rule 77 of the Rules of Civil Procedure (2005). [Practice Direction]
Coulter A. Osborne, Civil Justice Reform Project: Summary of findings & recommendations [Osborne report] (Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 2007). [Civil Justice Reform Project]
Civil Rules Committee, Consultation PaperPDFExternal Link (Court of Appeal for Ontario, October 2008). [Consultation Paper]
QUINDECA Corporation, Ontario: A change of Pace – Evaluation of the Case Management Pilot Projects (1994) at 31-33.

In 1988, the Joint Committee on Court Reform called for implementation of a system of caseflow management. Pilot projects were established in three cities — Sault Ste Marie, Windsor and Toronto.

In 1993, an assessment of the pilot projects was conducted by the Ministry of the Attorney General. The report concluded that the pilot projects were successful and made recommendations for their implementation.

A year later, in 1994, the Joint Committee on Court Reform engaged the QUINDECA Corporation, to conduct an independent review of the three pilot projects. QUINDECA’s Report concluded that the case management experience in Ontario was sufficiently successful to warrant continuation.

As a result, the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Civil Justice Review Committee produced a report endorsing the implementation of a caseflow management system in their 1995 First Report. The Civil Justice Review Committee called for a case flow management system on a province-wide basis by the year 2000. The report contained a draft rule on the subject, which later emerged as Rule 77. The draft rule was based on the experience gained in a previous pilot project conducted in Toronto, Essex and Algoma.

Caseflow management is a case-processing mechanism which manages the time and events of a law suit as it passes through the justice system. It does so with a view to achieving the following objectives:

  • the earlier resolution of disputes, where that is possible;
  • the reduction, and eventual elimination, of delays and backlogs;
  • the allocation of judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative resources to cases in the most effective manner; and,
  • reduction of the cost of litigation.

Description of Reforms:
Rule 77

  • Puts time frames in place for specific events, with flexibility to meet the special circumstances of each case.
  • Parties are encouraged to settle, narrow or consolidate issues in order to streamline proceedings. Early judicial intervention is used to promote the resolution of the case in a timely manner.
  • Applies to all civil actions and applications commenced in Toronto (limited by r.78), Ottawa and Windsor (as of December 31, 2002).
  • Does not apply to family law actions, class proceedings, estates, bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, mortgage actions, construction lien proceedings (except trust claims), Toronto Commercial List matters, or simplified rules (r.76) proceedings.
  • Cases are subject to mandatory mediation within 90 days of the filing of the first defence under r.24.1
  • Plaintiffs are required to select either the ‘fast track’ or the ‘standard track’ for their case based on the complexity of their case.
  • In the Toronto/Windsor locations, if mediation is unsuccessful or the case is exempt from mediation, the plaintiff must file a timetable or request a timetable within 180 days after the proceeding commenced.
  • Judicial intervention is accomplished by means of conferences with the parties. There are three types of conferences: (i) a case conference, (ii) a settlement conference, or (iii) trial management conference.

Application of Rule 77 Limited in Toronto Region
A Practice Direction was issued in November 2004 limiting the application of Rule 77 by Rule 78 in the Toronto region to those cases which required caseflow management. Rule 78 is a pilot project which no longer assigns civil cases automatically into a case management stream, but rather gives counsel more responsibilities on the progression of their case. Rule 78 is designed to respond more particularly to case needs.

Cased Not Falling Under Rule 77
A Practice Direction issued in 2005 reiterated the tools available for judicial management of cases not falling under Rule 77:

  • Rule 37.15 allows the parties to request that a single judge be appointed to hear motions for proceedings involving complicated issues or if two or more proceedings involve similar issues.
  • Under Rule 48.14, Status Notices will be issued for actions that have not been placed on the trial list within two years after the filing of a statement of defence, indicating that the proceeding will be dismissed for delay, unless the action is set down for trial, the action is terminated by any means, or a status hearing is requested at which a judge orders otherwise.

On October 1, 2008, the Civil Rules Committee issued a request for consultation on a proposed new case management Rule 77. These specific amendments “were so identified because they were not expressly considered, at least not in their current form, as part of the formal recommendations of the Civil Justice Reform Project”.

One proposal is for a new case management rule (Rule 77) that carries with it certain consequential amendments to the rule respecting mandatory mediation (Rule 24.1). The intention of the new case management rule is to combine the existing three Rules that involve different forms of case management (rule 37.15, Rule 77 & Rule 78) into one Rule. The new Rule is designed to be flexible enough to permit different Regions of the Province to adapt the case management process to fit the individual needs of each Region. In that regard, the new Rule does not propose or envisage any substantive change to the manner in which case management currently operates in Ottawa, Toronto or Windsor. The new Rule also allows for different levels of case management for different cases. The mandatory mediation rule is to be altered to make it a separately operating rule such that mandatory mediation can be required in cases without also requiring those cases to be subject to case management and vice versa. There is also more flexibility as to the timeframe within which mandatory mediation must occur under the amended Rule.

Consultation Paper at 1

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Aug 16, 2012