July 24, 2024

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Glossary of common legal words, terms and phrases

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Glossary of common legal words, terms and phrases


You will come across words, terms and phrases in any legal proceeding that you may not be familiar with and which may be difficult to understand. The above applies to the human rights application process under the Ontario Human Rights Code ( Code ).

This glossary has been designed to help claimants become familiar with common legal words, terms and phrases that appear in the Code and are used by the HRTO and by parties to hearings before the HRTO. Knowing and understanding these words, terms and phrases will help you navigate the HRTO decision-making process.

In addition, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has its own rules of court (HRTO Rules) that govern its practices and procedures. Many useful legal words, terms and phrases are themselves defined in the HRTO Rules. These will also help you navigate the HRTO’s decision-making process.

Some common legal words, terms and expressions used in the Tribunal:

Court documents: The official legal documents served and filed that constitute a dispute. In front of the HRTO, this often refers to documents prior to the mediation stage, namely the Application (Form 1), the Defense (Form 2) and the Reply (Form 3). (Pleadings)

Allegation : A claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or harmful, but which has not yet been proven in a hearing or trial. Until proven in court or tribunal, allegations are only assertions. (Allegation)

Directing soul : A legal doctrine that states that when a person acts on behalf of a company, i.e. when he is the directing soul of the company and dictates to it his will, his state of knowledge and his state of mind can be attributed to the company and the company can be held responsible for his acts and omissions. (Directing mind)

Ancestry : Ancestry is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code. An ancestor is a person from whom one descends and with whom the relationship is usually more distant than that of grandparents. A person’s ancestry can come from several cultural groups. (Ancestry)

Association : Individuals may be discriminated against because of their association with a person with a characteristic protected under the Code. This ground of discrimination applies even if the individual in question could not otherwise claim protection based on one of the grounds or does not share the same Code grounds as the person with whom they are associated. See section 12 of the Code. (Association)

Professional Associations : Under the Code, an area of ​​a social nature. Professional associations include trade unions and self-governing professional associations, as in the case of lawyers and the Law Society of Ontario. See section 4 of the Code. (Vocational Associations)

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt : The standard of proof applicable in a criminal law trial or hearing. This standard of proof should be distinguished from that of the civil law, namely the preponderance of probabilities. (Beyond a reasonable doubt)

Hearing on the Merits : The hearing at which the issues that gave rise to the dispute are decided. The hearing at which findings of fact are made, the relevant law is applied and a decision is made as to who is or is not legally responsible. For example: a HRTO decision finding a violation of the Code. Distinguished from procedural or preliminary hearings, which deal with provisional issues and not the substantive issues that will finally settle the dispute. (Merit hearing)

Summary Hearing : A hearing where the HRTO will decide whether to dismiss the application or part of it on the basis that it has no reasonable chance of success. A summary hearing can be initiated by the HRTO or requested by a respondent. See HRTO Rule 19A. (Summary hearings)

Notice of Examination for Execution : A notice issued by a court and served by a creditor on a debtor to be examined for enforcement (also called a “judgment debtor’s examination”), where the creditor has the right to ask questions and obtain information about the debtor’s assets and his ability to pay the amount ordered by judgment or order of a court or tribunal. (Notice of examination in aid of execution)

Notice of Mediation : A notice from the HRTO to the parties advising them of the date, time and place of their mediation. At the HRTO, most mediation sessions are held by teleconference, and the notice will contain detailed information on the instructions for the latter. (Notice of mediation)

Notice of Constitutional Question : A party who intends to challenge the constitutionality of a statute, regulation, by-law or rule or who seeks a remedy under subsection 24(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is required to give notice of at least fifteen (15) days before the constitutional question is debated. See HRTO Rule 4. (Notice of constitutional question)

Notice of Garnishment : A notice issued by a court and served by a creditor on a party who owes money to a debtor, in order to enforce a judgment or order of a court or tribunal. Typically, a tenant’s bank accounts, wages, or lease payments to a landlord are seized through a garnishment process. (Notice of garnishment)

Good Faith : Honesty. A sincere intention to treat others fairly. Good faith encompasses a sincere belief or motive that excludes malice or the desire to defraud another. Good faith is part of the test set out in subsection 34(2) of the Code, when an applicant has filed its application with the HRTO beyond the limitation period. (good faith)

Writ of Seizure and Sale : A method of collecting a debt. Decision made by a court that allows a creditor to seize the property of a debtor’s property. Used to take possession of property when a debtor has failed to make payments that are legally due to the creditor. (Writ of seizure and sale

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