There may come a time in your life when you will need to take someone to small claims court. You may have run into payment issues in which someone owes you money and refuses to pay, or perhaps you have had work completed that was not to the agreed upon terms. In reality, there are many reasons why someone may need to take another party to court, and knowing the steps to take to file a small claims case against someone is important. Here we look at the steps to taking someone to small claims court that can help you if the need every arises.
What to Consider
When you take someone to small claims court you will in all likelihood be severing the relationship with that party or business. If you wish to do business with them in the future, you may want to talk to a legal professional to find out if there are other ways to deal with the situation without suing them. Also, if the reasons are based on revenge, anger, or spite, you may want to reconsider before going to court, as these are not good reasons for building a litigation case.
Although there is the potential to claim a maximum amount of $25,000 in the Superior Court of Justice, with any court proceeding there will be costs involved that you will need to pay out of pocket. Plus, you should understand that the process can take anywhere from six months to two years, being both costly and time-consuming. Book a consultation with a paralegal to get a better understanding all the costs that are associated with your claim. Your paralegal can help strategize and build your case to obtain a more favourable settlement or judgement.
Building Your Case
Once you’ve reach out to a paralegal service you will need to work with them to build your case and Plaintiff’s claim that will be filed with the courts. The team will work with you to gather all the evidence that will reinforce your case, such as agreements, emails, and photographs.
Your legal representative will then have the defendant served. If the defendant does not file within 20 days, you will need to appear in front of a Judge and start the process of debt recovery. If they do file, your paralegal will attempt to first negotiate with the defendant’s counsel to obtain a settlement before going to a Settlement Conference.
Settlement Conference and Trial
If you need to attend a Settlement Conference, your legal rep will prepare a Settlement Conference Brief that will be presented in front of a Deputy Judge in the Superior Court of Justice. Also, a witness list and Will Say statements will be prepared in case you will need to go to trial. If a successful settlement is decided, you will not be required to attend court. If no settlement is decided, your legal team will then prepare the documents necessary for trial and prepare the witnesses. The next stage will involve attending trial where the case is heard before a judge.
As you can see, going to court and being on trial can be complicated and stressful. It’s very important to not only understand the process, but to be properly represented. Consulting a paralegal can help guide you every step along the way and help you build the strongest case possible.
Shaw Legal Service offers paralegal services for clients suing or being sued for small claims matters. We represent clients throughout the Ottawa area, including Kanata, Barrhaven, Orleans, Nepean, and Gloucester. For a no-charge, no-obligation consultation, call 613-612-2911.