The Status of Court Filings in Ontario and What to Do About It

Lately, there has been an explosion of court documents being rejected from filing. Reasons for rejection are numerous. There is almost no discernible pattern. Reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • failure to provide a back page,
  • submitting documents separately when they should be combined,
  • failing to have a witness to an electronic signature (not to be confused with a commissioned document),
  • a form is missing,
  • information is missing on the form,
  • disapproving of the affiant’s signature, and so forth.

It is speculated that the change in staffing at the courts is the cause for the increase in rejections. (E.g. experienced staff leaving and new staff entering.)

What is the solution?

One solution is abolishing the need for approval of documents. Just letting everything in or letting the judge decide at the hearing.

Another solution, which I recommend, is integrating the requirements for filing into the design process. The software should contain a checklist that all litigants need to complete before they hit file online. This checklist should address the common reasons for rejection for that type of document. Thereby reducing the number of wrongly filed material.

Lastly, the list of reasons for rejection should be made public. Litigants should know exactly what court staff are looking for to reject the document. Rejections should become the exception, not the norm. Rejections should be made only in exceptional circumstances if the requirements under the Rules are met. Superficial deficiencies should not require a litigant to file something four or five times, with new reasons for rejection each time.


  1. Michael Lesage


    Did you see the percentage rates on rejection, as high as 45% in Brampton! See pg. 6

    Also, staff are supposed to be guided by the ‘Superior Court of Justice Civil Procedures Manual.’ However, when I publicized this, they threatened to sue me. You can see their letter at

    Keep up the fight! We don’t have to have a dysfunctional court system in Ontario.

  2. When I still did litigation (not in Ontario) this was a daily routine. Submit, reject for unintellible reasons, repeat. Arguments I would make like “its not for you to decide if this can go on the record, this needs to be in front of the court” only made the court staff more determined.

    On several occasions I’d be arguing a motion and the judge would complain “why isn’t that affidavit on the record” and the explanation would be “I submitted it twice and it was rejected twice, here are the receipts”. I heard stories of other counsel emailing documents directly to judges and counsel with the note “this is an affadavit I intend to rely on but I can’t get it submitted”. Judges would comment that they were trying to decide matters based on the best evidence despite the best efforts of court staff.

    The most frustrating part was that this was happening at the client’s expense (or at my expense).

  3. I am assuming that whoever hires court staff isn’t going out of their way to find people who are not capable of learning how to do these jobs competently. So what is the real problem?

    A hint might be found in the demise of an organization called the Association of Canadian Court Administrators. There’s very little to be found online to suggest it ever existed. But this report - – published in 2012 was the result of a study done for the ACCA. Maybe this would be worth reading, even now.

    While Canada has no organization representing these people there is what appears to be a robust international organization. The International Association for Court Administration – – is headquartered in the U.S., but it appears to be particularly present and active in Europe. The conference scheduled for October is to take place in Helsinki. Is there any Canadian presence at all in this organization?

  4. I do not attend at Superior Court. However, to hear that court staff have some control on what evidence is allowed to be submitted in a case is concerning. I would like to know more about how evidence is accepted or rejected for submission.

  5. Natalie Wichrowski, Process Server

    I hate to say it, but these rejections have always been happening. Before the online portal opened, your process server would have vetted the document and doctored or dealt with the deficiencies before the document ever made it to the counter.

    As a process server, myself, I traveled with blank backpages, requisition forms, Info for Court Use forms, and fill-in-the-blank affidavits of service in my bag, and filled them out, myself, when necessary. I often reprinted backpages on correctly-coloured card stock, and made extra copies of documents before getting to court when my client hadn’t given me enough. If information was missing, a kind court clerk might even have allowed me to call the lawyer for answers, as long as the form wasn’t an Affidavit.

    I did most of these things independently, and sometimes “invisibly,” because Lawyers and law clerks are busy and it would be silly to charge for extra court attendances on my part if the deficiencies could have been solved quickly, preemptively. And I was happy to do it – dealing with the technicalities of the Forms and with (sometimes) obstinate Court staff was my specialty.

    I was really sad to see that us process servers were almost entirely carved out of the filing process and replaced by an insufficient online portal – you’re right: in a perfect world, checks on the Forms should have been introduced simultaneously with the portal, instead of just creating a virtual mail pile.

    The good news for me, and perhaps for you, is that the word on the street is that most Courts are now accepting most filings at the counters, in person, again, though the service hours are still restricted. If you’re running into problems, call your old process server for help. They may be really happy to hear from you.

    (And if you haven’t got a process server in Peel or Halton, feel free to look me up.)