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Digest of the Week — Dogs in Court

2013 CarswellOnt 9429 |

National Service Dog Training Centre Inc. v. Hall |

Ontario Superior Court of Justice


Civil practice and procedure | Discovery | Inspection of property | Limits of order for inspection

Plaintiff organization placed dog with defendant individual, subject to terms of contract — Individual refused to return dog at end of contract — Organization brought action in Small Claims Court for return of dog — Individual questioned suitability of dog for purpose of assistance to individual — Organization brought motion at outset of trial for inspection of dog, which would require adjournment at trial — Organization also moved for evidence of individual regarding dog to be excluded — Adjournment was granted so organization’s motion could take place — Motion by individual to vacate interim order was dismissed, and judge did not recuse himself — Individual moved to have reply evidence of organizations excluded — Remaining motions were heard together — Organization’s motion granted in part — Individual’s motion dismissed — Discovery was not expressly prohibited in Small Claims Court as it had been previously — Inspection of property was only contemplated at trial by judge, but this had unfair effect on party such as organization who could be left unprepared for trial — Court used discretion to order inspection of property, as this would serve interests of justice and trial fairness — Inspection of dog was not suitable to taking place in courtroom, but rather in variety of settings over time — Expert report based on inspection would assist trial judge, who could not be expected to make necessary observations on own — Conditions were placed on inspection so as not to alter condition of dog — All inspections were to take place so dog could be returned to individual at end of day.

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