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How to Write a Notice of Motion

Application to a Judge in Chambers

What is a Notice of Motion?

If you are representing yourself and need to make an application to the court, or if the Judge invites you to make an application, do not respond with a simple letter – it does not bind the court. The Judge may read your letter, discuss it in court, even appear pleased at your hard work; but if time slips by and he fails to act on your letter… this explains why.

Will the Judge or Court Registrar inform you that a letter is not sufficient? Typically not. Law, like medicine, covets its status as a trade guild. Most judicial staff, even when asked for procedural information, shake their head and stand mute, claiming they may not give legal advice. But giving personal legal advice differs from pointing people to resources in a uniform and unbiased way. Courts are beginning to see their duty here.

To that end, all Canadian courts now publish online the Queen's Bench Rules of Court for their geographic region. This is your go-to guide for court procedures. Common example: You may want to ask the court to issue a ruling, order, or directive on a legal matter. The Q.B. Rules describe how to write the application; how to serve it on the opposite party; and how to get it on the Chambers calendar so you may argue it before a Judge.

Among the diverse types of court applications, we will focus on the one with broadest use, the Notice of Motion, also called a Petition. The actual title varies by province. We call it a Motion, as most regions include that word in the title. The protocol for writing and filing your Motion is covered in the Q.B. Rules. In the appendix to the Rules look for an official Form which serves as a visual guide.

The framework of a Motion is now fairly standard across provinces. Motions have a long history in Canadian law, enough to coalesce regional disparities. This reflects how robust is the Motion, but it also means scores of cases have been adjudicated which challenge and extend the framework. In the resulting precedents, the essential law points are extracted, and a synopsis printed alongside each procedural rule in an expanded resource titled the Annotated Queen's Bench Rules (updated annually).

To learn more about the Q.B. Rules and their Annotations, read the Tuum Est guide Queen's Bench Rules of Court. To learn about the specific action called the Notice of Motion – including its structure, content, length, and timing – read the article below.

Notice of Motion – The Elements

  • Cover page
  • Style of Cause: Place at the top of the page. This administrative segment gives the name and location of the court, the names of both parties and their role (the applicant and respondent), plus the date and case number. If no case number is assigned yet, leave an underline and the Court Registrar will fill it in.
  • Document Type or Title: Center this horizontally on the page; for neatness add borders above and below. The title varies by province. Common examples are: Petition (British Columbia); Originating Application (Alberta); Notice of Motion (Ontario); Interlocutory Application (Nova Scotia). Consult your local Rules for the title used in your region. If you anticipate filing multiple applications over time, add a sequence number, tagline, or short subtitle.
  • Contact Information: On the lower half of the page type your name, and your address for service (location where respondent may serve documents on you).
  • Caveats for the Responder
  • Rights and Obligations: Often a Motion carries tutelage for the opposing party such as how to answer, and warnings what could occur if no answer is made. The words and consequences differ markedly by province, so check your local Q.B. Rules. In response to a Motion, the opposing party may bring a cross-motion.
  • Time and Place
  • Chambers Hearing: A Motion unrelated to a Trial is heard in Chambers, which is a Courtroom given over to short sessions typically 2 days a week. The date you may choose for your Hearing is narrowly constrained by the date you filed your Motion, and by the date of service on the other party. When you know your Hearing date, enter it, plus the Courthouse address, on your Motion at the top of the first content page. Specific wording is expected; check your local Rules.
  • Content of the Motion
  • Relief Sought: Statement of what you request from the court.
  • Grounds: The reasons and basis for your request, in numbered paragraphs which provide a clear reference frame for discussion and judicial rulings. The grounds are divided into two strict segments, fact and law.
    • Fact: Material facts and events giving rise to your request. The full details belong in a separate Affidavit – what you saw, heard, experienced, plus the state of mind of the other party. Into the Motion insert only a précis (bringing the consequences and injury into focus).
    • Law: Legal foundation for your request. Start with precedents that match or parallel your case. Identify clauses in civil or criminal statutes that are directly on point. If useful, add citations from the Charter of Rights and the Evidence Act. Cite any Queen's Bench Rule that pertains. These are referred to as your legal authorities.
  • Material to Be Relied On: List of documents that support your position. Include your Affidavit. List its sworn exhibits, to signal the court that you have objective evidence; if the exhibits are numerous, list the most significant. Itemize any precedents and statutes which you referred to in your Grounds section.
  • Signature and Date: At the end type your name and sign just underneath; add the date. What you affirm is the content above your signature, so if you later modify paragraphs, or insert last-minute ideas, you must retype the Motion.
  • Attachments
  • Physically attach each document you listed. An Affidavit must be original, sworn, and formally filed (with Jurat signed, and front page bearing a Filed stamp). The exhibits belonging to your Affidavit must be individually sworn; for these, copies are safer than originals. To swear a document free of charge, visit the Registrar's Office or Sheriff's Office.
  • With case law and legislation being readily available online, courts encourage you to file only the nucleus of your case authorities. An orderly way to do this is described in the Saskatchewan Practice Directives.
  • Draft Order
  • Finally, construct a Draft Order, or Proposed Order, of what you would like the judicial ruling to say. This does not place an obligation on the Judge to grant any or all of your points. Rather, the purpose is clarity, to give the Judge a succinct and very tightly-written reminder of your goals in the Chambers session.

FURTHER READING

Motions are a bedrock of the judicial system. They are used on both the civil and criminal side, during Hearings and Trials, and in all venues – Provincial Court, Queen's Bench or Superior Court, Appeal Court, and the Canadian Supreme Court. It is worthwhile to learn how to write an effective application. Below are links to the best-written guidelines.

Province Name of Application Guidelines Sample Form
B.C. Petition Q.B. Rule 16-1 Form 66
Alberta Originating Application Q.B. Rule 3.8 Form 7
Ontario Notice of Motion Q.B. Rule 37 Form 37A
Nova Scotia Interlocutory Application Q.B. Rules 22 & 23 Form 23.03
Georgena S. Sil
Saskatoon, Canada
Physicist & Technical Writer
Alumnus: University of British Columbia

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Motion, Cover Page

Notice of Motion
Saskatchewan QB Court

The cover page of a Notice of Motion has these standard sections:

Top: Style of Cause including:
• Case Number
• Court Location
• Name of the Parties

Center: Document type and subtitle

Bottom: Applicant’s address for service

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