Who Should be Part of the Action?
The people or organization directly involved in an action, either by suing or being sued, are often referred to as “parties” or “parties to the action”.
The person who brings a claim is called a “plaintiff”. A Plaintiff is a person who goes to Court and says that something unlawful happened to them. There can be more than one plaintiff. However, other people can be added as plaintiffs only if they agree to being plaintiffs.
A “defendant” is a person who the Plaintiff says is responsible for the unlawful thing that happened. There can be more than one defendant in an action. Defendants named in an action must participate, or judgement can be made against them without their participation.
It is not only people who can be a party to an action. Rather, parties to an action may be groups or organizations, such as:
- A partnership
- A company
- A Crown corporation (i.e., BC Transit or ICBC)
- A trade union
- An aboriginal government
- A city
- A province or
- The Federal Government
Who Should I Name as Defendants?
Think carefully about who has caused your loss. Was it a person? Was it a business? Was it a government?
If more than one person or organization was responsible for your loss, you can name more than one person as a defendant.
It is important when naming defendants to think about who will have the ability to pay you if you succeed. Simply winning a lawsuit does not automatically mean you get paid. Rather, once the Court has found in your favor, it is your responsibility to collect. For more information on the collection, see Enforcing Court Orders.
Think about whether the person you are planning on suing will likely pay if they lose. Are they insured? Are they big organizations like a corporation or a government that can be trusted to pay debts?
If there is nobody named as a defendant who you expect will actually be able to pay if you succeed, you may want to reconsider starting a lawsuit at all.
Do your best to make sure you have the correct (and full) names of every person who will be named in the documents.
If you cannot find an address for a defendant, this does not mean that you cannot file your claim. If there is a limitation period (See Limitation Periods) that is about to expire, file without determining the address. You may list a defendant in the claim and say “address unknown”. However, you may not be able to serve the claim (see more information on service below) without an address. You will therefore need to figure out the address of each defendant eventually, and if you can you should include this information in the Notice of Civil Claim.
Consider getting legal advice to make sure the correct parties are included in the document because if you chose the wrong parties, it will cost you time and money to change the documents later.
The defendant has the option in their reply to sue the person making the claim for a related incident. For example, if you sue a contractor for failing to complete the agreed-upon work, they may decide to sue you for money owed for the work done. If they sue you, you are also a defendant and must take steps to reply. See Counterclaim for more information.