How Small Claims Court works in Canada

Canadian Claims Court is structured to help people settle differences and disputes reducing somewhat the high attorney and court fees usually required in lawsuits. Generally, cases involve disputes over money, contracts or property damage. The court is relatively informal and designed to let average people make their voice heard. There are typically four steps in the small claims process: The claim, the defense, the settlement conference and the trial.

The claim begins as a form filled out by the plaintiff. This form, along with any supporting documents, is filed with the court and outlines the alleged damages. A copy of the claim is given, or served, to the defendant to inform him of the case. A defense can then be filed by the defendant on a similar form. This outlines the defendant's side of the story. Copies go to the court and back to the plaintiff. At the settlement conference, both sides meet to discuss the case before a judge. This is not the official trial, but gives the parties the opportunity to work out their differences. Settlement can also be discussed, allowing the defendant to pay a lower sum without having to go to trial. Trial is the final step in the claims court process. Both parties have the opportunity to present their side of the case and to call witnesses on their behalf. The judge considers all evidence and makes a judgment. Providencial Differences:
The small claims court process varies slightly in Canada depending on the province. In most provinces, the court is separate from the higher courts. This is true, for example, in British Columbia and Alberta. In other locations, such as Ontario, small claims court is a division of the superior courts.

Claim limits also vary depending on the province. Claims under $5,000 fall under small claims jurisdiction in every province. This limit rises to include claims up to $7,000 in Quebec and $25,000 in Alberta. These limit amounts can usually be found at the website of the attorney general for each province.

Court Recommendations:
There are several ways to increase the chances of success in small claims court. While not legal advice, these recommendations can help give a case the best chance possible to succeed.

It is important to know whether a party being sued has assets to pay a judgment. A court judgment is useless if there are no assets to collect. Such assets could include employment wages, automobiles or monetary accounts. It is also extremely important to be prepared. Have all supporting documents, witnesses and evidence organized and ready to present to the judge. Dress well and be polite. A well-prepared case will carry more weight than a shouting match in front of the judge.

How to Appeal a Small Claims Court Decision in Canada:
Justice is blind but can also be pricey. Canadian citizens on the losing side of a small claims case are entitled to a subsequent appeal. The process involves separate fees and detailed filing procedures that must be followed. However, those willing to go the distance can claim victory from defeat.

File a Notice of Appeal. You must file Notice of Appeal Form 59A in the Supreme Court Registry closest to the provincial court where your lawsuit was filed. You must file the form within 40 days after the verdict was rendered. Be prepared to pay all the required fees before filing your appeal, including $208 to initiate a Supreme Court proceeding, a $200 security deposit and the full judgment amount you were ordered to pay.

Step 2 Give notice. Each party must receive notice of your appeal along with copies of the Small Claims Appeal Standard Directions within 7 days of filing your appeal. You may personally serve the document or hire a process server. An affidavit of service must also be filed within 14 days of filing your appeal.

Step 3 Set a hearing date. You must file Notice of Hearing of Appeal Form 59B in addition to your initial notice of appeal. The Notice of Hearing of Appeal may be scheduled on the Chambers list---which includes a $62 filing fee--- if your hearing resumes in less than 2 hours. You must arrange for a date through the Supreme Court Trial Coordinator and file the Notice of Hearing of Appeal---$208 filing fee--- if your time estimate is more than 2 hours. Then you must deliver a copy of the Notice of Hearing of Appeal to all respondents within seven days.

Step 4 Order court transcripts. The appealing party must order transcripts of the evidence presented and judgment rendered during the small claims court trial. You must provide subsequent proof that transcripts were ordered within 14 days of filing the appeal. In addition, you must file the transcripts and serve a copy to each respondent within 45 days of filing your appeal.

Step 5 Prepare your arguments. Prior to the hearing, you must file a statement of argument, explaining your grounds for appeal, and serve one to each respondent. The hearing is a review of the original trial. So be fully prepared to explain why you feel the Provincial Court Judge wrongly interpreted the facts of your case. Use the transcript and your statement of argument as guides.

No court is quick. It will take you the better part of a year to go through the entire Small Claims Court process and have your trial and get judgement. Then you still have to try to collect. Getting a judgement is fairly easy. Collecting is an entirely different story. Source: Benjamin Arie

Justice can be pricey and taking a long time

Source: 3DNET on 24 may 2015

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