StatsCAN Plus

Civil courts: Number of cases increases again in 2022/2023

May 14, 2024, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

According to the latest data from the Civil Court Survey (CCS), there were 768,615 active cases in Canada’s civil courts in the 2022/2023 fiscal year, up from 765,967 in 2021/2022 (+0.3%) and 697,320 in 2020/2021 (+10.2%). The number of inactive cases also increased, from 392,367 in 2021/2022 to 456,315 in 2022/23 (+16.3%).

The CCS collects information on family and non-family civil court cases from the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Saskatchewan), at the provincial, territorial and superior court levels.

Active cases are those with at least one court event within a given fiscal year, including the initiation of a case, which moves all or part of the case through the court system. Inactive cases are those with no court activity during a given fiscal year but at least one court event in the previous year.

Active family cases increase for third consecutive year

There were 252,516 active family cases in 2022/2023, up 2.7% from the previous year (245,964). Over two in five cases (43.3%) were new in 2022/2023 compared with 44.8% in 2021/2022, while 56.7% were ongoing from a previous year, up from 55.2% in 2021/2022.

Divorce cases were the most prevalent, accounting for nearly half (44.9%) of family law cases in 2022/2023, followed by cases with issues relating to contact and/or parenting and support cases (20.2%).

Child protection cases, which are those involving any government agency supervision due to abuse, neglect or incapacity, accounted for 7.8% of active family cases in 2022/2023. The remaining cases (27.2%) included, among others, issues of parentage, non-parental guardianship matters, enforcement of court orders, and unknown issues.

Fewer motor vehicle-related cases drive the decline in active general cases

The number of active general civil cases declined 0.8% from 520,003 cases in 2021/2022 to 516,099 cases in 2022/2023. Motor vehicle cases, which involve injury (personal or property), accounted for over one in five general cases (110,601; 21.4%), but there were 11.1% fewer cases in 2022/2023, driving the year-over-year decline.

Other civil action types (111,887), such as constitutional/charter, civil protection, administrative law and adult protection/committeeship cases, slightly outnumbered motor vehicle-related cases but accounted for roughly the same proportion (21.7%). This category was up 8.4% from the previous year (103,258), slowing the overall decline.

Other contract cases, such as those involving landlord/tenant, employment, and mortgage foreclosures, made up 13.7% of active general civil cases, while other tort cases (9.8%), such as malpractice and defamation, probate (8.6%), collections (7%), bankruptcy cases (3.2%) and unknown general civil cases (14.7%), accounted for the remaining 56.9%.

More process events, but fewer pre-trial, trial hearings

There were over 6.4 million total court events in 2022/2023, most of which were process events (5,074,996; 78.8%). Process events are events that move the case forward through the civil process but are not the initiating event. Over 8 in 10 of these process events (81.7%) were document filings (4,147,340), which were up 5.8% when compared with 2021/2022. Pre-trial hearings (321,585) and adjournments (307,002) were the next most common events, both down from the previous year (-0.9% for pre-trial hearings and -10.4% for adjournments).

The number of trial hearings (-44,201; -3.8%) also decreased year over year, as did other process events (-176,932; -1.2%), which may include enforcement and appeal hearings.

More judgments and other disposition events

A disposition is a court event that disposes part of or all of a case. There were 938,729 disposition events in the civil courts in 2022/2023, up from 919,978 in 2021/2022 (+2.0%).

Of these events, the number of settlements (+2,868; +34.1%), dismissed or discontinued events (+4,922; +14.2%) judgments (+13,540; +2.1%), default judgments (+87; +0.4%) and withdrawals (+183; +0.4%) were all up in 2022/2023 compared with 2021/2022.

StatsCAN app

Did you know you can read StatsCAN Plus articles and more on the StatsCAN app? If you’re already using the app, let us know what you think by leaving a review in the App Store and Google Play.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (