What Does the Rules of Civility Mean?
The Rules of Civility are the generalized conduct expectations for the parties and advocates within legal proceedings. Despite animosity that may exist, those involved are required to behave with respect and courtesy.
Litigants in legal proceedings can often make the process of litigation more difficult than necessary through the use of uncivil and discourteous conduct; and although litigants are litigants because of some type of disagreement, the conduct engaged during the process of resolving the disputed issue should remain civil and courteous. In fact, the common law and the Principles of Civility for Advocates require civility and courtesy during the course of litigation.
Where representatives governed by the Law Society of Ontario lack civility, disciplinary penalties may result; Law Society of Upper Canada v. Joseph Peter Paul Groia, 2013 ONLSHP 59. Additionally, lack of civility can result in court sanctions personally assessed against a representative; Riad v. 1865789 Ontario Inc., 2016 ONSC 4770.
Although unrepresented persons, being litigants without a lawyer or paralegal, are without governance by the Law Society of Ontario, such are without exemption or exception to the requirement of civility. Courts will often set the tone of proceedings by imposing costs sanctions against unrepresented litigants engaging without civility; Schaer v. Barrie Yacht Club, 2003 CanLII 38484