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How Does a Lawsuit Work in Alberta?

If someone has caused you a loss that is recoverable at law through the courts (determining that is something lawyers can help with), how do you sue a person or organization in Alberta in the Superior Courts? This article is for a basic claim outside the context of the Builders Lien Act and family law and without taking into account third party claims or counterclaims.

The first thing you should be aware of is the Limitations Act in Alberta which basically says you have two years from the time your action arises to sue on it (subject to some exceptions). The next step is usually to issue a demand letter setting out what your issue is- this can resolve some claims. Searches need to be obtained to determine names and addresses.

After that is done a Statement of Claim is prepared. The party that prepares it is the Plaintiff; the party that is sued is the Defendant. The Statement of Claim sets out the facts underlying your claim, and asks for relief from the Court.

Once the Statement of Claim is filed you have generally one year to serve it. Serving pleadings can be tricky because proof has to be tendered that the individual or organization was served.


Not all parties defend when they are served with a Statement of Claim. If they do not then there are mechanisms to obtain default. If they do defend then they file and serve a Defence on the Plaintiff; they may also advance their own claim (known as a counterclaim). After receiving the Defence then the Plaintiff has 90 days to prepare, swear and serve an affidavit of records. This contains all the relevant and material documents to the lawsuit. The Defendant then has a further 60 days to prepare swear and serve an affidavit of records.


Often the Courts require an alternative dispute resolution process to occur.


After receiving the records of the other side, the parties typically schedule a questioning on the materials provided. This involves asking the other side questions, under oath, with a court reporter present. This often leads to numerous other documents being produced as undertakings, which can in turn lead to more questioning.


Expert reports, if used are exchanged.

There are numerous other applications which are beyond the scope of this article which can be used during the litigation process, including summary judgment applications and summary trials. There can be traps for the unwary within the Rules of Court, which govern much of the litigation process.


Once those steps are done and a number of other steps completed, the parties can set a date for trial. Available trial dates can be many years out.


At trial the parties outline their respective sides of the story through witnesses, evidence and argument and the judge makes a decision. After the decision is made, the parties may choose to appeal.


Litigating can be an expensive, time consuming and difficult proposition, and is best done with assistance from legal counsel. If you require assistance with a potential lawsuit, please contact us .


This article is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a solicitor-client relationship. It is intended to provide legal information only. You are advised to consult with counsel if you wish to receive legal advice on your matter.


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