Going to court
It is preferable to resolve disputes out of court, but it may not always be possible. In this situation, it will be necessary to resort to the courts and it will be up to the judge to decide.
If you have decided to go to court, it may be worthwhile to consult a lawyer first to get a better understanding of the law and the judicial process. You will first have to file a complaint with the appropriate court and obtain a trial date, which can take more than a year. Until the trial is held, your lawyer may appear in court to try to resolve the dispute on your behalf or to clarify certain procedural issues.
If your dispute goes to trial, you will have to go to court with your lawyer. You and the other party will be asked to take an oath and swear to tell the truth, explain your dispute and present any documents related to your dispute. You and the other party will be cross-examined by each other's lawyers. Depending on the outcome of the trial, the judgment will have to be enforced, unless it is appealed.
Representing yourself in court without a lawyer
You do not need a lawyer to bring your case to court. Anyone can represent themselves, but it would be wise to consult a lawyer before making such a decision.
If you decide to represent yourself, you should research:
- The system and judicial procedures;
- Any laws that are related to your case;
- Evidence to be presented;
- The outcome if you win or lose your case.
The Council has created three handbooks that contain a wealth of information on family law, civil law and criminal law in Canada. These handbooks are intended as helpful guides for people who are navigating the justice system without a lawyer to prepare and present their legal case. To access these guides, visit Representing yourself in court.