content top

Small Claims Court

My office provides representation for both Plaintiffs and Defendants in Small Claims Court.

The kinds of cases that can be heard in small claims court include:

  • Contract disputes
  • Debts, loans, collections
  • Disputes with Contractors
  • Wrongful Dismissal (Employment)
  • Malpractice (claims under $25,000)
  • Personal Injuries (claims under $25,000 only)
  • Consumer Protection Issues
  • Damages to Property
  • Damages to Business Interests or Personal Reputation
  • Harassment, Nuisance, Environmental Contamination
  • Several other kinds of disputes (call me)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (SMALL CLAIMS COURT)

Q. How much can I sue for in small claims court?

Up to $25,000 (excluding costs, interest)

Q. How long do I have to file an action in small claims court after I find cause to sue?

In general, the limitation period is two (2) years. That means you have to file your claim on or before the two (2) year anniversary date of the time you discovered your cause to sue.

There are exceptions to this rule, which might give you less time, depending on the type of issue. Because you may lose your right to sue if you miss the time limits, it is important to seek legal advice right away, as the time limits might be much shorter, such as in the event of a slip and fall, damages caused on a road or a highway, anything that might involve an insurance matter, or if you feel you have a claim with a tribunal, such as the labour board, landlord and tenant board or the human rights tribunal, where the rules might differ.

Q. What kind of paperwork do I need if I want to file a small claims court claim?

You need to use the court’s own forms to file or defend aclaim, or to do certain other actions such as filing a motion (which is a step that might be necessary at any stage of your case to ask a Judge for permission to do certain things, such as to combine an action, serve a party in a different manner other than that prescribed in the rules, to add a new party to your case, or to have a case dismissed for specific reasons).

In terms of supporting your case, you should acquire invoices, receipts, letters, photos, emails, or anything else you feel supports your claim, and put them in one place, and bring them when you come to my office for your first appointment.

Q. What other information might I need for my case?

It is very important to think about names, addresses and contact information for any witnesses, or third parties that can provide me with additional information about your case, or could appear in court as a witness on your behalf.

I might ask you to obtain other information, depending on the nature of your case. For example, if you are suing a former employer, I will need your record of employment, any letters or documents you received when you were terminated, as well as any monies that had been given. If your case is about an injury you had sustained, I will need to know where you had received treatment, if there are any medical reports of your injury, as well as any out of pocket expenses you covered (such as ambulance, air cast, physiotherapy).

Q. Are there any kinds of cases that I cannot bring to small claims court?

I will advise you if your case needs to be filed in the Superior Court of Justice and would require you to seek a lawyer. For example, claims about estates, all monetary claims over $25,000, claims under the Construction Liens Act (even those under $25,000), tort claims resulting from auto accidents, as well as certain other cases, need to be filed in the Superior Court and my office will refer you to a lawyer that handles the type of case you have.

Q. Can you help me negotiate a settlement for my case?

Both the rules of the court and of my profession encourage representatives to work towards settlement of any action where this is possible. Even if we file your case, serve it on the other party, and the matter is scheduled for Trial, many times, I have been able to achieve a settlement with the other party or their representative that both sides can live with.

Q. Can I still sue in small claims court if my case is worth more than $25,000?

Yes, you can. However, if you choose to go through small claims court, you have to limit your claim to $25,000 and waive any amount that is over this limit. For example, if your claim is worth $35,000, but you want to file in small claims court for the sake of expediency and cost, you would sue the party for $25,000 and note that you are waiving the amount over and above $25,000.

Q. Can I make the other party pay my legal fees?

If your case makes it to Trial and you win, the Judge may award some of your legal fees. A cost award can be made up to 15% of the total claim. You will also get other costs, such as filing fees, process server fees (with proof of payment for the service) and interest.

Q. How much will it cost for me to file a case in small claims?

The total cost of your case depends on a number of factors, such as how complex your issue is, how difficult it is to find and serve the party you have a dispute with, the possibility of reaching a settlement of your case before it gets to Trial, number of witnesses and length of your Trial, as well as how difficult it might be to collect any judgment you receive.

Q. If I win my case, how do I collect my money?

If you win at Trial, or by default or by Assessment of Damages (which is like a one sided Trial in the case where the party you are suing was served properly but did not file a Defence), you are awarded a judgment, costs and interest. Interest is awarded at the rate set by the courts, which reflects the Bank of Canada rate for inflation; however, if you can prove, for example, that your contract with the other party was set at a higher interest rate, you can get that interest rate awarded by the court provided you supply proof of this.

Your judgment is as far as the court will go in helping you collect your money. However, the court has a number of tools a judgment creditor (which you become after you win your case) can use to collect your money. If you want my office to assist you or guide you through this process, we can help.