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  • Writer's pictureJared Davies, Lawyer

Deemed admissions pursuant to Mane v. Mane, 2023 ONSC 5343

Introduction:


The case of Mane v. Mane, 2023 ONSC 5343 stands as a comprehensive exploration of many issues ranging from parenting to financial disputes. Central to this legal dispute are allegations of family violence. However, for purposes of this post, we focus on a critical procedural aspect of the case, specifically the issue of withdrawing deemed admissions, which garnered a “mid trial ruling”.


The Family Law Rules give an overview of a "Request to Admit" and the subsequent "deemed admission" provided the party fails to respond in 20 days:


Request to admit


(2) At any time, by serving a request to admit (Form 22) on another party, a party may ask the other party to admit, for purposes of the case only, that a fact is true or that a document is genuine. O. Reg. 114/99, r. 22 (2).


...


Response required within 20 days


(4) The party on whom the request to admit is served is considered to have admitted, for purposes of the case only, that the fact is true or that the document is genuine, unless the party serves a response (Form 22A) within 20 days,


(a) denying that a particular fact mentioned in the request is true or that a particular document mentioned in the request is genuine; or


(b) refusing to admit that a particular fact mentioned in the request is true or that a particular document mentioned in the request is genuine, and giving the reasons for each refusal


A pivotal procedural turn in the Mane v. Mane case revolves around the deemed admissions stemming from the Applicant’s request to admit (prior to the trial), which the Respondent failed to respond to within the agreed time frame.


Issue:


The central issue at hand is the Respondent’s subsequent attempt to withdraw these deemed admissions at trial. Her plea is grounded in her disagreement with the asserted facts and her desire to contest them during the trial.


Analysis:


The court must weigh the triable nature of the issues, ascertain whether the admissions were made in error with a reasonable explanation, and determine if any prejudice caused by their withdrawal can be rectified or compensated through costs. The court's stance on the deemed admissions is firmly established, drawing from precedents such as Ramtour v Ramtour and Szelak Investments Ltd. v Orzech:


[31] …The test for withdrawal of an admission is: (a) the proposed amendment is on a triable issue; (b) the admission was a mistake and the party offers a reasonable explanation for the change of position; and (c) any prejudice caused by the withdrawal can be cured or compensated for in costs. See Ramtour v Ramtour, 2019 ONSC 2448; Szelak Investments Ltd. v Orzech, 1996 CanLII 490 (Ont CA).


The Respondent did not provide a timely response despite several months of notice. The Respondent waited until the trial to try and withdraw her deemed admissions and stating only that it was because they were “lies”. To give effect to her withdrawal, the judge stated an adjournment would have been necessary,


The court declined her request. Despite this, recognizing the Respondent’s self-represented status and the need to consider the best interests of the child, the court permitted her to testify about the deemed admissions. This pragmatic approach reflects the nuanced nature of family law proceedings and the court's commitment to a fair and comprehensive evaluation. The court explained:


[33] …I still allowed her to testify about facts that she was deemed to have admitted for four reasons. First, I need to determine KM’s best interests. Second, I’m entitled to interpret the deemed admissions. See Allto Constr. Services Ltd. v Toronto and Region Conservation Auth., 2017 ONCA 488, at para 11. Third, Karynah is self-represented. Finally, in some cases, Rohan’s requested admissions aren’t facts capable of being admitted—they’re conclusory statements. For example, Rohan says that a deemed admission is that he was “active and involved in parenting [KM] during the relationship”. That’s not a fact capable of admission; it’s a conclusion that I make based on the evidence at trial.


Conclusion:


In the midst of a multifaceted family law dispute, Mane v. Mane unveils a procedural intricacy with the issue of deemed admissions. The court's decision not to grant leave for their withdrawal emphasizes the importance of timeliness and adherence to procedural rules in family law proceedings. However, the case also demonstrates the court’s commitment to fairness especially to self-represented litigants.

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