Understanding Small Claims Court Procedures

Understanding Small Claims Court Procedures

If you’re considering processing a claim in the Small Claims Court you should brush up on the court procedures that are involved. Here we outline everything you need to know to submit your own claim and the necessary steps that will guide you through the process.


The Claim

When looking to start the claim process you’ll need to complete an online form and pay the court fee. You can easily find the form here and either submit it online, take it to the claim office in person, or send it by mail. And if you have any supporting documentation you should also process it with the form. Just remember to make a photocopy for your records.


Serving the Defendant

Once you receive the court-stamped claim you will need to “serve” the defendant by having the claim delivered to them in person. Once the defendant is served they will have 20 calendar days to file their defence.


Filing the Defence

After being served the defendant will be required to fill out a Defence Form. This will include submitting any supporting documents that they have as part of their defence. Once completed the documents will be photocopied and mailed directly to the claimant’s home – called “serving the defence.” Then the defendant will need to submit the original copies, the filing fee and a photocopy in person or mailed with an affidavit of service to the Small Claims Court.


Attending the Settlement Conference

The next steps involve attending a settlement conference to attempt to settle your dispute outside of trail. You can expect the date for the settlement conference to arrive by mail. A List of Proposed Witnesses form will also be sent to be completed, served to each other, and then filed with the court within 14 days of the settlement conference date. You can also submit any documents that were not originally submitted in the claim or defence, but you must serve them to each other at least 14 days before the conference. The conference will be presided by a judge and if an agreement cannot be sought then the next step will involve a trial date.


Settlement Before Trial

If a settlement is decided upon before the trial date, the parties will need to fill out and sign a Terms of Settlement Form. If the defendant owes the claimant money and does not pay, the claimant can ask the judge for a motion to order the defendant to pay or they can opt to attend trial.


The Trial

For the trial, an entirely new judge will preside over the claim. Evidence will be presented by both sides and a judge will make an official judgment.


Collecting the Award

If money is awarded to the claimant and is not paid from the defendant, the claimant will need to take the necessary steps to try to get their money. This process will be done out of court and can be challenging so it’s recommended that a lawyer or paralegal is involved to help move it along more quickly and smoothly.

The Small Claims Court process may seem easy enough, but the real challenge is presenting the evidence, serving the defendant and knowing how to prepare witnesses and your testimony for trial. A lawyer or licensed paralegal in Ottawa can help better guide you through the process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact Shaw Legal Service today for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.

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