416-703-2402 Local
1-888-378-3388 Toll Free

Starting a Lawsuit in your Home Town – Change of Venue Principles Reviewed

Case Comment – Siemens Canada Limited v. City of Ottawa, (2008 Ont. S.C.)

This is an interesting review of the change of venue test, whereby the defendant may seek to move the lawsuit from one Registry in Ontario to another.  This case is reported at Siemens Canada Ltd. v. Ottawa (City) (2008) 93 O.R. (3d) 220 (Ont. S.C.).


This case involves an aborted $217 million project whereby the plaintiff was to provide parts of a light rail system (LRT) for the City of Ottawa.  The plaintiff sought to maintain their lawsuit in Peel Region, where the plaintiff had significant operations based.  The defendant sought to move the action to Ottawa, where the public interest in this project was seen to be the strongest.  This motion was brought early in the lawsuit.  There was also a companion lawsuit brought by another contractor to the LRT project, St. Lawrence Cement Inc, who participated in this motion.


The change of venue factors are found at Rule 13.1.02(2)(b) of Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure, and typically these motions consider all of the factors listed in that subsection in order to determine whether a change in venue is “desirable in the interest of justice.”


In this case, both parties are sophisticated and well-funded.  As an example, the costs sought by the parties (on a partial indemnity basis), for this specific motion alone, was $25,000 to $60,000, per party.  The Court went through the enumerated factors and found them to be fairly evenly balanced as between the two parties.


Significantly, the project agreement was an extensive contract negotiated by lawyers generally based in Toronto for parties.  The contract was silent on the venue of a lawsuit, though it considered various others issues (including the Ontario Superior Court as being the appropriate forum for dispute resolution).  As a result, the motions Judge did not order a change of venue, but allowed the defendant to bring another change of venue motion closer to Trial, when another evaluation of the enumerated factors (i.e. witnesses) could be determined with more precision.


This is an interesting read for lawyers, including those practicing insurance litigation and personal injury law.



Gregory Chang

Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer