What is Small Claims Court
For smaller civil disputes, legal proceedings are typically carried out in small claims court. A branch of the Superior Court of Justice, they deal with civil disputes and proceedings of a monetary value of up to $25,000 CAD. Small claims court cases operate under simplified rules and procedures befitting their scale and magnitude. Each province in Canada has their own small claims court, and as a result each province will have different rules and regulations put in place. After determining whether your claim falls within the jurisdiction of the court, litigations can move ahead.
Many lawyers term small claims court as one of equity, due to the fact that it can be flexible when demanded by fairness. For instance, Unintentional inability to adhere to more technical rules (such as those pertaining to evidence) by litigants may possibly be forgiven by the court. This allows for non-lawyers to represent themselves for cases pertaining to smaller dollar amounts. Additionally, paralegals can provide full legal representation to clients in small claims court disputes.
What Cases Go to Small Claims Court?
Typically, small claims proceedings can handle any legal action for the payment of funds or recovery of property amounting to up to $25,000 CAD, excluding interest and costs such as court fees. You can still choose to use the small claims court system for monetary value exceeding this figure, but you will have to surrender any amount over the limit as well as any right to obtain it in other courts.
There are various claims that can be filed in small claims court, and they include:
- Unpaid accounts for provided goods or services
- Unpaid loans and/or rent
- NSF cheques
- Property damage
- Damages to clothing caused by a dry cleaner
- Personal injuries
- Breach of contract by a specific individual or business.
The Legal Process
Proceedings begin once you’ve prepared a Plaintiff’s Claim, which is a document containing a short, clear, and concise summary of the events that transpired and your reasoning behind your belief of the person or business in question owing you financial restitution or property. It needs to be filed in court and sent to each person or business you are suing. Be sure to include the legal name and address of the accused party or parties in order to guarantee a viable outcome, gather all appropriate evidence that can be used to bolster your claim, and remember that time limitations may apply to your claim.
In most cases, Plaintiff Claims can’t be filed until more than two years has passed since the incident in question, but there are sometimes exceptions. Consult a legal professional such as a paralegal or lawyer to learn the approximate limitation period for your claim.
Once prepared and permitted by law, you can deliver this documentation to the defendant and court. However, you may only file the claim at the courthouse closest to either the location of the cause of action or nearest to the working or living address of the accused. At this time, various expenses can come into play, including those pertaining to interpretation, travel, issuing a summons to a witness, filing a notice of motion, and filing of a claim by an infrequent claimant.
At this point, the defendant may attempt to dispute your claim by filing a Defence Form with the court and delivering a copy to you, which is essentially what you did when filing a Plaintiff’s Claim. If this occurs, you’ll receive a notice with the date, location, and time of a mandatory settlement conference. If yourself and the defendant do not reach an agreement during this session, a trial can be requested.
Depending on the outcome of these continued proceedings, you or the defendant may or may not succeed in proving the validity of either claim and end the litigation process either partially or fully reimbursed. The length of the small claims court process depends on how much contradictory information the plaintiff and defendant provides, and how complicated the case becomes.
How Shaw Legal Service Can Help
Litigation, even through small claims court, can be a long and arduous process, made even more frustrating when self-representing and working alone. Shaw Legal Service can alleviate this stress by putting you in direct contact with one of our legal professionals who is highly knowledgeable of the inner workings of small claims court. Well versed and familiar with such proceedings, we can help you achieve a better likelihood of succeeding in your endeavours towards restitution by explaining your options and talking you through the legal process. By speaking with us, you’re opening a channel of vital communication with a Licensed Ottawa Paralegal Firm and recognized pursuant to the laws of the Province of Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario.
If your case is time sensitive, the legal process can be initiated immediately. Hiring a paralegal is the ideal middle ground between the greater expense associated with hiring a lawyer and the danger of self-representing without comprehensive legal knowledge. This is where we can lend a hand.