It is a commonly held belief that Ontario is the litigation capital of Canada. With more lawyers than any other province, a greater population and far larger economy, this idea is intuitive and easy to believe.
However, the question remains; are individuals and corporations located in Ontario more likely to litigate than those located elsewhere? With no immediate answer at hand aside from anecdotes and conjectures, I decided to investigate.
In order to analyze how much litigation is taking place in Canada, I looked at the number of Court decisions there are from Canlii for each province from January 1st, 2014 to December 31, 2016. I chose those years to standardize the input as some jurisdictions do not have data from prior to 2014, while others have not entered decisions for 2017 yet. The data is imperfect as it includes some Court decisions for matters such as cost motions and other non-trial decisions, but for the most part, it provides an accurate picture of the amount of litigation taking place in Canada. This number includes both civil and criminal court cases.
|Prince Edward Island||169||6,186,000,000||148,600|
The numbers are hardly surprising here, the more populous and wealthy a Province is, the more court decisions there are. This is supported by the data indicating that 98.6% of the variation in court decisions per province can be explained by population differences alone.
However, after adjusting for population size, the density of a province still provides some information on how litigious the province is. Adjusted for population size, 78% of the variation in court cases across Canada is explained by a province’s population density. The smaller provinces have slightly more court decisions per capita than larger Provinces do.
|Province||Court decisions per 10,000 people|
|Prince Edward Island||11.37|
I then looked to see what other factors might influence the amount of litigation taking place in a province. Aside from population size, both crime and economic activity seem to be good indicators of litigation. The more economic activity there is in a Province, the more money there is to litigate over. Similarly, the higher the crime rate in a province, the more criminal trials there should be.
To try and discern how these variables interacted with each other, I ran a multivariate regression on the number of court decisions per province, using population size, economic data, and crime rates as the variables.
Together, these factors explain 61% of the variation in the number of court decisions per province. Ontario and Nova Scotia have more court decisions than the model predicts, while Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have far less. This means that Ontario and Nova Scotia are slightly more litigations than their population size, economic activity and crime rates suggest, while Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have less legal activity.
After investigating the data, it seems as if Ontario has slightly more litigation than the rest of Canada. However, the effect is minor, and the level of litigation remains similar throughout the country.
“This article is intended to inform and entertain. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”