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Offers to Settle in Ontario Divorce & Family Law
(9) The only valid way of accepting an offer is by serving an acceptance on the party who made the offer, at any time before,
(a) the offer is withdrawn; or
(b) the court begins to give a decision that disposes of a claim dealt with in the offer.
(10) A party may accept an offer in accordance with subrule (9) even if the party has previously rejected the offer or made a counter-offer.
[This is important, because at common law, making a counter-offer meant that you could no longer accept the original offer].
(11) If an accepted offer does not deal with costs, either party is entitled to ask the court for costs.
[You can request costs in your offer to settle, but aren’t required to]
(12) A special party may make, withdraw and accept an offer, but another party's acceptance of a special party's offer and a special party's acceptance of another party's offer are not binding on the special party until the court approves.
(13) If a party to an accepted offer does not carry out the terms of the offer, the other party may,
(a) make a motion to turn the parts of the offer within the court's jurisdiction into an order; or
[So, an accepted offer has the force of a court order.]
(b) continue the case as if the offer had never been accepted.
(14) A party who makes an offer is, unless the court orders otherwise, entitled to costs to the date the offer was served and full recovery of costs from that date, if the following conditions are met:
1. If the offer relates to a motion, it is made at least one day before the motion date.
2. If the offer relates to a trial or the hearing of a step other than a motion, it is made at least seven days before the trial or hearing date.
[These deadlines are important - if you miss them, the cost consequences of the offer to settle don’t kick in]
3. The offer does not expire and is not withdrawn before the hearing starts.
[Normally, the offer will contain wording to the effect that: “Unless previously revoked by the respondent or accepted in writing by the applicant, this offer expires automatically upon the commencement of the trial (or motion) of this matter.”]
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