As of January 1, 2020, the Small Claims Court will now permit a person to sue for money or for the return of personal property of up to $35,000. Previously, the Court only heard cases that did not exceed a monetary value or damage of up to $25,000. With the recent amendments, the Small Claims Court has made seeking justice more accessible and more achievable.
What is The Small Claims Court?
The Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. Essentially, this Court is a less formal, civil trial Court that hears cases where the amount of money or value of property involved is $35,000 or less. This Court is meant to provide a more accessible and a less formal way of litigating civil disputes.
Who Can Represent in Small Claims Court?
A person may be represented by a lawyer or licensed paralegal in this Court.
What is the Process?
Many people stay away from getting into messy litigation disputes mainly because it can be costly and timely. However, fortunately, the Small Claims Court attempts to make it easier for people to file civil suits and to have disputes heard in a timely manner. In a nutshell, the procedure goes like this:
The Settlement Conference
What Types of Cases are Heard in Small Claims Court?
It is important to always remember that no claim can exceed $35,000 in Small Claims Court. If it does, you will need to have your case heard at the Superior Court of Justice and then that's a whole different ball game. A few examples of cases that can be heard in Small Claims Court are:
Damage to Property
Breach of Contract
If you happen to lose your case in Small Claims Court and wish to appeal the decision, you may do so by filing an appeal with the Divisional Court. The Divisional Court typically hears appeals from administrative tribunals, such as the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, however under the Courts of Justice Act, an appeal from Small Claims Court can go to the Divisional Court from a final order to claim the payment of money or recovery of possession of property.
It is important to make note of the limitation period in which a party can file a claim in Small Claims Court. According to the Limitations Act, a party must begin his or her claim within two years of the event. For example, if a dry cleaner damages your clothing on September 1, 2020 you will have to file your claim with the Small Claims Court by September 1, 2022. That is, if the damage is $35,000 or less.
Froese Law is your ally for success. We are happy to announce our extended practice of small claims.