The Rules of Civil Procedure govern the process of civil actions in the Ontario Courts. While most rules are well known and deal with everyday matters in the progression of a file, some rules are “neglected” and can provide an advantage if used properly.
Rule 51 deals with admissions. Many practitioners will not address the issue of admissions until trial; however, Rule 51 has a place in the early to middle stages of litigation. One such example of this situation is the recent decision of Mullen v. Allstate, 2013 ONSC 2867 (CanLII).
This case arose out of a motor vehicle accident which took place on December 11, 2003. The defendants were the plaintiff’s own insurance company, All State, and a rehabilitation company. The plaintiff served numerous requests to admit. The defendants brought a motion claiming that the plaintiff’s actions were an abuse of process and attempted to circumvent the rules for oral discovery. The Court did not agree.
The Court stated that there are no limits on the amount of requests to admit stated in the Rule. The Court differentiated two cases referred to by the defendants which dealt with hundreds of requests to admit. The facts here were not similar. Requests to admit may “refine issues ahead of oral discovery and obviously ahead of trial.”
As a result the defendants lost the motion.
Many practitioners will note there are issues in cases which, while not hotly contested, will still remain contested as a bargaining chip. The request to admit can serve as a technique to force the opposing party to make the necessary concessions at an early stage. The rule forces a response within a specific time period. In addition there is a built in penalty provision.
Mullen v. Allstate makes it clear that the request to admit is not limited to a single document and may be used repeatedly as long as they are phrased properly. Practitioners should be aware of this rule in order to advance their clients’ interests.