The Ontario Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice that deals with an array of civil disputes, including but not limited to, breach of contract, property damage, wrongful termination, personal injury claims, and the collection of overdue accounts. With a monetary limit of Thirty-Five Thousand Dollars ($35,000), Small Claims Court provides plaintiffs and defendants with a cost-effective and efficient remedy to resolve their disputes.
Don’t be fooled by this monetary limit, like the Superior Court of Justice there are still strict rules and procedures that must be followed by all litigants. The Rules of the Small Claims Court set out all of the timelines and procedures that must be followed. For example, after a claim has been issued the plaintiff has six (6) months to serve the claim on the named defendant(s). If a defendant is an individual the claim must be served on them personally and an affidavit of service must be completed after service is completed. These rules must be followed otherwise the claim will fall under the scrutiny of the Judge and you risk the validity of your claim. These rules are in some respects a condensed version of those applied in the Superior Court, as an underlying role of Small Claims Court is to encourage resolution of smaller monetary disputes without the more complex aspects of litigation heard in the higher courts.
Due to the monetary limit and the accessibility of the Small Claims Court forms, online some litigants do take on this process themselves. Although you can represent yourself in Small Claims Court we do not recommend this for many litigants because the experience and knowledge of a legal representative can advance your claim significantly. Simply put, unrepresented litigants slow down the process and make mistakes because arguing a civil claim is not something they do every day. Often a person will choose to self represent in small claims matter to keep costs down, however one thing to consider is that as part of a claim (or defence to a claim) in Small Claims Court a party can claim some of the cost of legal fees against the other side. As such it is often beneficial for all parties involved to retain legal representation in these matters, no matter how small the monetary amount in dispute may be.
If you have any questions about a possible claim that you may have against someone or you have been served with a Plaintiff’s Claim it is crucial that you contact a legal representative as soon as possible to explain your rights and any timelines that may apply to your situation. If you are thinking of filing a claim you have two (2) years from the date of the incident or occurrence to commence a claim, if you miss this two-year mark you will lose your right to make this claim. If you have a Plaintiff’s Claim served on you, you have twenty (20) days to file your defence against this claim. These are just two examples of the milestone that needs to be completed for a Small Claims Court case, beginning with a free one-hour consultation our lawyers and paralegals can assist you through the process and procedures set out in the Rules of the Small Claims Court to ensure that you have put your best foot forward for your Plaintiff’s Claim, Defence, Settlement Conference, and/or Trial. Call FDT Law today at 1-800-563-6348.
Ontario Small Claims Court deals with an array of civil disputes, including but not limited to:
- Breach of contract
- Property damage
- Wrongful termination
- Personal injury claims
- The collection of overdue accounts
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