Efficiency is a key goal in Litigation. It saves the parties’ money, helps to resolve disputes quicker and saves the court resources. The goal of efficiency can be met in many ways. One way that sometimes arises is in a Consolidation of Court Actions.
Sometimes there are multiple court actions each proceeding under their own court file. Does it make sense to Consolidate the actions and have the issues litigated together and have one trial down the road or one trial following right after the other? The Ontario Superior Court considers a number of factors in this context including the following non-exhaustive list:
@ the extent to which the issues in each action are interwoven;
@whether the same damages are sought in both actions, in whole or in part;
@whether damages overlap and whether a global assessment of damages is required;
@whether there is expected to be a significant overlap of evidence or of witnesses among the various actions;
@whether the parties are the same;
@whether the lawyers are the same;
@whether there is a risk of inconsistent findings or judgment if the actions are not joined;
@whether the issues in one action are relatively straight forward compared to the complexity of the other actions;
@whether a decision in one action, if kept separate and tried first would likely put an end to the other actions or significantly narrow the issues for the other actions or significantly increase the likelihood of settlement;
@the litigation status of each action;
@whether there is a jury notice in one or more but not all of the actions;
@whether , if the actions are combined, certain interlocutory steps not yet taken in some of the actions, such as examinations for discovery, may be avoided by relying on transcripts from the more advanced action;
@the timing of the motion and the possibility of delay;
@whether any of the parties will save costs or alternatively have their costs increased if the actions are tried together;
@any advantage or prejudice the parties are likely to experience if the actions are kept separate or if they are to be tried together;
@whether trial together of all the actions would result in undue procedural complexities that cannot easily be dealt with by the trial judge;
@whether the motion is brought on consent or over the objection of one or more parties.
Efficient, Just Litigation should be the goal in every proceeding. Consolidation is just one tool in the litigation system that might apply to save the parties’ expense, time and make effective use of court resources.*
William Poulos, Barrister
* This blog is not a substitute for legal advice. Should you require legal advice, a lawyer should be consulted to advise on the specific circumstances of your case.