Report of the Task Force on Discovery Process

Superior Court of Justice / Ministry of the Attorney General

Chair: Justice Colin Campbell, Superior Court of Justice
Associate Chair: Debra Paulseth, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Court Services Division

This Report completes the review conducted by the Task Force on the Discovery Process in Ontario, which was requested by the Attorney General and the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice in 2001. The Task Force has considered all aspects of the discovery process, identified problems, and made recommendations for reform. In conducting this review, the Task Force has engaged in province-wide consultation, conducted empirical research, and examined discovery processes in other common law jurisdictions.

The Task Force recommends changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure to incorporate enhanced cost and time saving mechanisms into the discovery process. However, during the Task Force’s deliberations, it became apparent that rule changes alone could not address all discovery problems, particularly those related to the prevalent culture of litigation.

The Task Force therefore recommends that ongoing work be undertaken by a committee comprised of representatives of the bar, the judiciary and courts administrators to develop a “Best Practices Manual” on the discovery process. The objective is to establish acceptable standards for the conduct of discovery in a collaborative and cost effective manner, in order to promote the efficient resolution of litigation.

The Best Practices Manual will provide guidelines and time standards for, among other matters, discovery planning, documentary disclosure and production, oral and written discovery, and the discovery of expert evidence. Guidelines for specific case types (for example, construction lien, wrongful dismissal, motor vehicle and medical malpractice) will also be included. It is anticipated that a consensus approach to the development of best practices will complement the recommended rule changes in promoting more timely and efficient resolution of civil cases.

In gathering background information, comments and proposals for this Report, the Task Force has been aided enormously by members of the judiciary, bar organizations and individuals who are noted therein. The Task Force has also been greatly assisted by counsel in the Civil/Family Policy and Programs Branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General, who have provided dedicated project management and research support.

Comments in response to the recommendations in this Report may be directed to any member of the Task Force or to:

Susan Charendoff (Task Force Project Director)
Lead Counsel
Civil/Family Policy and Programs Branch, Court Services Division
Ministry of the Attorney General
720 Bay Street
Toronto ON M5G 2K1

Report of the Task Force on Discovery Process (November 2003)