Reform of Ontario's Law on Jurisdiction

Vaughan Black


Globalization gets the credit and the blame for many things, and one of these is the increasing amount of civil and commercial litigation in Canada that involves factual connections to more than one country or province. Our courts see the disputes generated by a higher volume of cross-border transactions and operations. These raise questions of private international law, and one of the most important of these is whether the court chosen by the plaintiff has jurisdiction to resolve the matter.

Accordingly, it is timely that the Law Commission of Ontario has decided to issue a Consultation Paper examining the exercise of jurisdiction by Ontario courts in civil cases. The Paper is by Janet Walker, a leading Canadian private international law scholar, with input from a working group of other scholars in the field. The Paper was issued in early March 2009 and the period for comments was open until April 13, 2009. The Law Commission plans to prepare a formal report setting out its recommendations for legislative action. It also contemplates issuing further consultation papers on other aspects of cross-border litigation, such as proof of foreign law and enforcement of foreign judgments.

This comment focuses on some of the more central issues raised in the Paper. Jurisdiction is a broad topic and reforming it is a huge undertaking, so any response must of necessity be selective. This comment also appreciates that the Paper, as befits its role, raises some issues without taking a position on them.

This paper was co-authored with Stephen Pitel, University of Western Ontario (


Conflict of Laws

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