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Administrative Law (Ontario)(SPPA) Guide
(15 July 2020)

Chapter 8 - General SPPA Rules: Enforcement

  1. Overview
  2. Procedure
  3. Choice of Courts and Sheriff
  4. Enforcement Against the Crown
  5. Interest on Money Orders
  6. Contempt

1. Overview

Neither the SPPA nor any specific administrative law regime has its own separate procedures to enforce tribunal orders. Orders of tribunals that are not complied with must be enforced through the enforcement mechanisms of the civil courts.

Overwhelmingly these enforcement mechanisms are premised on the enforcement of orders for the payment of money - though some do exist to seize chattel property, and to seize and sell real estate. Only contempt of court proceedings are available for the enforcement of purely behavioural orders [for this see s.6 below].

2. Procedure

Enforcement is commenced by filing a certified copy of the tribunal's decision or order (obtained from the tribunal) with the appropriate court - or in certain cases (see below), with the local sheriff's office, in the territorial division of the court where the debtor resides or carries on business. Once filed, the court will treat the order as though it were issued from the court itself [SPPA s.19(1)(3)].

Notice of such enforcement filing should be given to the tribunal that issued the decision or order within 10 days of the filing [SPPA s.19(2)]. No SPPA form is prescribed for this so it appears that a simple letter to this effect will suffice.

It comes as a surprise to many people that enforcement of tribunal and court orders is not conducted at the initiative of the Tribunal or by any other government agency, rather it is left entirely to the initiative of the party who holds the order (in the case of money orders, the 'judgment creditor').

3. Choice of Courts and Sheriff

While the law (SPPA 19.1) states that enforcement is done through the "Ontario Superior Court", the main Superior Court has a subsidiary branch [Courts of Justice Act, s.22(1)] namely the Small Claims Court, that is also available for enforcement purposes.

Orders for the payment of money of $25,000 or under, or the recovery of possession of personal property to that value, may be enforced in the Small Claims Court ($25,000 is the monetary jurisdiction of that court), using the collection procedures explained here: Small Claims Court (Ontario): Ch.16 Collection

Money orders greater than that in amount must be filed in the main Superior Court, using the procedures set out in Rule 60 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Those procedures are generally similar to those used in the Small Claims Court.

Most enforcement through the Small Claims Court involves the court office or court "bailiffs". However, one method of enforcing money orders is a "Writ of Seizure and Sale of Real Property", which is enforced through the local sheriff's office [SPPA s.19(3)]. Procedures for this are also found at Rule 60 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, linked above.

4. Enforcement Against the Crown

Tribunal decisions and orders often deal with entitlements to public benefits or some other obligation of the government of Ontario ("the Crown in Right of Ontario").

Enforcement procedures against the Ontario Crown are greatly restricted by virtue of the Proceedings Against the Crown Act (PACA), which prohibits the making of orders for the recovery of real or personal property against the Crown [s.15], and greatly limits the range of execution (collection) procedures that can issue against it [s.21].

That said, PACA [s.22] effectively orders the Minister of Finance to comply with court orders for the payment of money by payment of the debt out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Because a tribunal order, once filed with the court, is "deemed" to be an order of the court [SPPA s.19(1)], this provision should compel recovery from the Crown of money orders.

Otherwise, non-compliance by the Crown with a tribunal decision or order against it - particularly behavioural orders - is a complex situation and is beyond the scope of this present Legal Guide.

5. Interest on Money Orders

There is no general SPPA rule specifically addressing the accumulation of interest on money orders before the order is made (in court this is called "pre-judgment interest" and covers the period between the commencement of the proceedings and the date of judgment or order). However if a tribunal has jurisdiction to add interest to money orders it can also set the date at which interest commences, which could conceivably be set at a date earlier than date of the order being made [SPPA s.17(2)], thus achieving the effect of "pre-judgment interest". Conceivably this authority could be used to start interest accumulation as early as the date of the events being litigated.

However, as the filing of a tribunal judgment with the court for enforcement results in the order being treated as though it were issued from the court itself [SPPA s.19(1)(3)], at that point the court's post-judgment interest rules are thereby invoked: Northern and Central Gas v Kidd Creek 66 OR (2d) 11 (Ont CA, 1988). For the Small Claims Court, these rules are discussed at this Isthatlegal.ca link (otherwise see the Rules of Civil Procedure):

Small Claims Court (Ontario): Ch.14, s.6: Trial: Interest

6. Contempt

As is noted above, enforcement of purely behavioural orders can only be done by way of contempt proceedings, which are ultimately backed by arrest and incarceration ('warrant of committal').

The issue generally is governed by Courts of Justice Act, s.129. Procedures for court contempt applications are set out in the Rules of Civil Procedure, R60.11:

Rules of Civil Procedure

Procedures for contempt proceedings are discussed at length in the case of McNaught v TTC (Ont CA, 2005) and in the case extracts at Contempt of Court. The McNaught case is essential reading for anyone involved in such proceedings. The procedures are infrequently used, far from easy and convenient, and will eventually require making arrangements with the police for actual arrest.

Contempt proceedings cannot be brought in the Small Claims Court as that court has does not have jurisdiction to commit a person to jail for contempt, except for default in debtor examination [see Small Claims Court, Ch.16, s.5(f)].


The author has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
Administrative Law (Ontario) (Statutory Powers Procedure Act) (July 2020 edition).