Pro Se Litigant
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.
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|
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