Put your best foot forward. Conflict is a normal and natural occurrence of interacting with one another. Day to day our lives are met and confronted with conflict. The cost of resolving conflict is negligible relative to the cost of leaving conflicts unresolved. Effective communication, legal knowledge and skill are all combined in Jaclyn’s approach to legal matters.
The Small Claims Court can handle any action for the payment of money or the recovery of possession of personal property where the amount claimed does not exceed $35,000, excluding interest and costs such as court fees.
This includes the value of all goods that the plaintiff is asking for in total, no matter how many defendants there are.
The Small Claims Court of Ontario is a civil court of equity where individuals or businesses may obtain justice by initiating or defending claims. The term 'equity' implies that the decision of the court will be to return the parties to the position they were in before the cause of action arose. Small Claims can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the legal jargon, and proper procedures, paperwork, and with many unknowns and unexpected circumstances.
Jaclyn prepares, and presents, allowing for your court attendance(s) and appearance(s) to prevail with the least amount of stress possible.
Jaclyn will simplify the resolution of your matter by guiding, recommending and advocating for you, throughout the process of suing and/ or defending a party in an action.
Matters in contention between you and the other party may be mediated at a Settlement Conference or decided by a Judge at the conclusion of an adversarial Trial.
Please do not hesitate to contact Jaclyn if she may be of any assistance in explaining the many complex issues involved in a Small Claims Court of Ontario, action.
In response to the continuing public health situation in respect of COVID-19 and the highly transmissible Omicron variant, effective Monday, February 7, 2022, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice will extend the following temporary adjustments to its operations announced on December 17, 2021, until February 28, 2022, subject to further direction from the Court. For all matters, where a party has a lawyer they are encouraged to explore the technology supports that their lawyer may be able to provide, such as attending at the lawyer’s office or another location to participate in their hearing virtually. Where a litigant does not have access to the necessary technology to participate in a virtual hearing, and does not have a lawyer who is able to provide supports or resources, they should reach out to their local court office immediately so that arrangements can be made to facilitate their participation in the hearing.All Civil matters will proceed virtually. Where necessary, particularly in situations of urgency, the Court may direct that these cases proceed as hybrid hearings.
The Rules of the Small Claims Court provide for streamlined procedures so that cases can be determined at a lower cost and in less time for litigants than cases commenced in the Superior Court.
Typically, deputy judges preside over proceedings in the Small Claims Court. Deputy judges are senior lawyers appointed for a term by the Regional Senior Judge with the approval of the Attorney General. The Small Claims Court Administrative Judge and judges assigned to the Provincial Court (Civil Division) before September 1, 1990 may also hear Small Claims Court proceedings pursuant to the Courts of Justice Act.
Every judge of the Superior Court of Justice is also a judge of the Small Claims Court.
The Small Claims Court presides in over 90 sites in the province.
Consolidated Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding the Small Claims Court
March 16, 2020; last amended April 4, 2022.
Where a judge authorizes a party to email materials to the court for an urgent hearing and it is not possible to email a sworn affidavit, unsworn affidavits will be accepted on the condition that a sworn affidavit is provided prior to the hearing or the person is available at the hearing to swear or affirm of the affidavit.
Where parties and representatives deliver materials by email, they undertake to file the same materials in paper format, and pay the requisite filing fee, at the court counter when regular court operations resume.
You may wish to also consult the Ministry of Health’s website at Ontario.ca/coronavirus for further information on how to protect yourself.
While the Ontario Small Claims Court is an important source of timely access to justice in Ontario, the health and safety of those who use and work in the Small Claims Court is the priority.
The Law Society is alerting the public about a fraudulent inheritance scheme involving letters from people posing as lawyers. Letter recipients are asked to be beneficiaries to a sizeable life insurance policy in exchange for a share of the policy benefits. Anyone receiving such a letter may wish to contact the local police. More information is available in the notice.
If the amount of your claim is more than $35,000, you can still choose to use Small Claims Court. However, you will have to give up the amount of money over $35,000, as well as any future right to get this money in any other court. You cannot divide the amount of money you are claiming into separate cases. You cannot, for example, divide $30,000 into a $25,000 claim and a $5,000 claim in order to have the total amount dealt with in two cases.
Examples of claims that can be filed in the Small Claims Court include:
Claims for money owed under an agreement:
Unpaid accounts for goods or servies sold and delivered
Claims for damages:
Clothes damaged by a dry cleaner
Breach of contract
You must pay a fee to file a claim or defence in Small Claims Court and for most steps in a proceeding, such as filing a motion, requesting a trial date, and taking steps to enforce a judgment. The number of steps in a proceeding varies from case to case.
There are also fees and allowances that you must pay to witnesses you have summoned for their attendance and travel to court. In addition, you will have to pay for any interpreters you or your witnesses require, other than bilingual (English or French) interpretation and visual language interpretation, unless your fees are waived (see below).
A party – often the successful party – can ask that the other party be ordered to pay his or her costs, such as court fees. Jaclyn offers a reasonable hourly rate, or a flat fee which is reviewed in detail within the retainer agreement.
It is important to remember that a judgment is an order of the court; it is not a guarantee of payment. If you obtain a judgment in your favour, and the debtor fails to pay you as required by the judgment, you may have to take steps to enforce (collect) the judgment. In order for you to collect, the person or business must have one of the following:
Assets that can be sold
A debt owed to the debtor by another person (for example, a bank account or employment income) that can be garnished
There may be a time limit (limitation period) to how long you can wait before making a claim.
Deciding where to file your claim is an important decision (geographical jurisdiction). You must file your claim in the court office that satisfies any of the following criteria:
The court in the territorial division where the cause of action arose (i.e. where the event took place or problem occurred)
The court in the territorial division in which the defendant lives or carries on business (if there are several defendants, then it can be the court in the territorial division in which any one of them lives or carries on business)
At the court’s place of sitting that is nearest to the place where the defendant lives or carries on business (if there are several defendants, then it can be the court nearest to the place in which any one of them lives or carries on business)
The example below represents a typical dispute (reasons for the claim) and provides an overview of the initial steps involved in Small Claims Court to help you to understand how it works. The procedures outlined include:
The settlement conference
In some instances, the Criminal Code establishes an offence in one provision and establishes the penalty for that offence in another provision.
For most summary conviction offences, the maximum punishment is a fine of $5,000 or two years less a day in prison, or both. Paralegals are permitted to offer legal services for quasi criminal matters; summary offences.
AS OF JAN 1, 2020
Increase the maximum amount of a claim in Small Claims Court from $25,000 to $35,000.
Make it faster, easier and more affordable for people and businesses to resolve their legal disputes.
Increase the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to the Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.
The $25,000 monetary claims limit has been in place since January 1, 2010, when it was increased from $10,000. Currently it is $35,000.
The minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court will also increase from $2,500 to $3,500.
Litigants who started a claim in the Superior Court can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court if the claim falls within the monetary threshold.
After changes to legislation, a paralegal is now automatically a notary public by virtue of office.
A paralegal's appointment as a notary public may subsequently be revoked in accordance with the Act.
The maximum monetary jurisdiction at the Landlord and Tenant Board, under the jurisdiction of the Residential Tenancy Act, either for rent, damages or Landlord or Tenant claims; is now $35,000.00
Ontario's Small Claims Court, a branch of the Superior Court of Justice, which handles civil claims to a maximum of $35,000.
Small Claims' actions are sometimes needed by Landlords for example, when the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board loses jurisdiction when the Tenant is no longer in possession of the unit, or for contract issues when there is a substantial lease term remaining and the Tenant vacates.
A rule specifying that a paralegal has a duty to provide courteous, thorough and prompt service to clients has been added.
This new rule on quality of service is contained in subrule 3.02(1) and stipulates that the quality of service required of a paralegal is service that is competent, timely, conscientious, diligent, efficient and civil.
Guideline 6: Competence and Quality of Service provides that a paralegal should meet deadlines, unless the paralegal is able to offer a reasonable explanation and ensure that no prejudice to the client will result. In addition, a paralegal should promptly respond to communications and report developments to clients whether or not there is a specific deadline. In the absence of developments, contact with the client should be maintained to the extent that the client reasonably expects (paragraph ).
You may choose to have a paralegal represent you in:
Small claims court
Prosecution of provincial offences, including traffic tickets, under the Provincial Offences Act
Tribunals, such as the Landlord and Tenant Board or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
Certain summary conviction criminal charges under the Criminal Code proceeding in the Ontario Court of Justice.
Claims for money owed under an agreement, such as,
unpaid accounts for goods or services sold and delivered
NSF (non-sufficient funds) cheques
Claims for damages, such as,
clothes damaged by a dry cleaner
breach of contract
Fees are set partly by how often you file a claim. A frequent claimant files 10 or more claims in a calendar year at the same court location, an infrequent claimant less than 10.
An infrequent claimant will pay:
$102 for filing a claim
$89 for filing default judgment
$290 for fixing a date for an assessment hearing
$120 for filing a Notice of Motion for an Assessment in Writing
$215 for filing a claim
$121 for filing default judgment
$380 for fixing a date for an assessment hearing
$120 for filing a Notice of Motion for an Assessment in Writing
Note: the fee waiver does not apply to online filing.
The minimum amount of a claim that can be appealed to the Divisional Court will also increase from $2,500 to $3,500.
These changes will be beneficial to employers dealing with low stakes wrongful dismissal litigation for example.
At times, employers are tasked with defending wrongful dismissal cases in the Ontario Superior Court that are valued at $35,000, or less, in which the cost of litigation far exceeds the cost of settlement (regardless of the merits of the case).
This is primarily due to the number of procedural steps required before a matter proceeds to trial in the Ontario Superior Court.
These steps include: document discovery, examinations for discovery, mandatory mediation, motions, and attendance at a pre-trial conference. The Small Claims Court removes a number of these steps and require the parties to attend a settlement conference at no cost to either party.
As a result, litigating a matter in the Small Claims Court is significantly cheaper than litigating a matter in the Ontario Superior Court.
Raising the cap at Small Claims Court also increases the risk to employees who seek to leverage the cost of litigation in the Ontario Superior Court for the purposes of settlement. This is due to the Ontario Superior Court’s discretion to award no costs to a successful party if the award properly falls within the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court (i.e. $35,000 or less, as per the upcoming changes).
However, litigating a matter in Small Claims Court is not without its own flaws. Under the Small Claims Court rules, and absent special circumstances, a successful party cannot be awarded costs that exceed 15% of the amount claimed in most cases, subject to a judge’s discretion.
Under the new cap, this would mean the maximum amount a party can recover in costs is $5,250.
For employers, for example, the best means to avoid the unnecessary costs of litigating low stakes wrongful dismissal cases remains taking pre-emptive measures to limit the possibility of a dismissed employee commencing litigation in the first place.
Such measures include, but are not limited to, having enforceable termination clauses and crafting creative termination packages.