Restoring an Action to the Trial List

The Court of Appeal has provided guidance with respect to the test for restoring an action to the trial list.

In Nissar v. Toronto Transit Commission, 2013 ONCA 361 (C.A.), the plaintiff alleged she was injured while a passenger on a bus in 1999. Examinations for discovery took place in 2002, but transcripts were not ordered and the tapes were destroyed in 2010.  Although the matter was set down for trial in 2004, it was struck off the trial list in 2005.  The plaintiff changed counsel three times.  The motion to restore the action to the trial list was not brought until 2011, and not heard until 2012.  The motion judge dismissed the motion, holding there was no explanation as to why it had taken seven years to bring the motion to restore the action to the trial list, and there was prejudice to the defendant as pre-accident OHIP records were not available and the defendant might not remember details of an accident that occurred 13 years previously.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The plaintiff bears the onus of demonstrating there is an acceptable explanation for the delay in the litigation and that, if the action were allowed to proceed, the defendant would suffer no non-compensable prejudice.  In the circumstances, the plaintiff had failed to meet the test.

The Nissar decision was release concurrently with the Faris case, which was the subject of last week's post. They may signal a new emphasis on moving cases swiftly through the system, rather than allowing them to languish for several years.

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