How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court?

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How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court?
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If you want to sue someone and are not able to solve the problem another way, then you can file a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court.

However, you have to realize the following:

One thing to consider before deciding to sue is whether you will be able to collect the money if you “win” the case but the person you sued doesn’t pay. It will be your responsibility to enforce the cord order to collect the money.

Plaintiff and Defendant

You are the plaintiff and the defendant is the person or business you want to sue.

In your claim you have to to explain to the court:

  • who you are
  • who you are suing
  • what happened that led to the lawsuit
  • what you are asking for

You can read the Guide to Making a Claim that can help you to write the claim:

https://www.ontario.ca/document/guide-procedures-small-claims-court/making-claim

What you have to know and do BEFORE you file a claim:

  • Know time limitation: In most cases, a claim can be filed not more than 2 years after the incident.
  • Find out the full legal name and address of the person or business you are suing.
  • Determine if your claim falls within the jurisdiction: Small Claims Courts in Ontario have specific monetary limits of $35,000 on the claims they can handle. Ensure that your claim falls within this limit. If you are suing somebody for $45,000 you cannot “divide” this amount for two claims (let’s say $20,000 and $25,000). For anything over $35,000, you need to go to the Superior Court of Justice.
  • Gather necessary information: Collect all relevant information, facts and evidence related to your claim. This may include contracts, invoices, receipts, correspondence, photographs, or any other evidence supporting your case. Write a short, clear summary of what happened and why you think you are owed money or property.
  • Attempt to resolve the dispute: Before initiating a court proceeding, consider attempting to resolve the issue through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation. This can save time and costs associated with litigation.

How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims CourtFiling a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court

1

Fill out the Plaintiff’s Claim form (Form 7A).

Obtain the Plaintiff’s Claim form from the Ontario Small Claims Court or their website. Fill out the form accurately and provide all required details, including your name and address, the defendant’s name and address, a clear statement of your claim, and the amount you are seeking.

2

Attach an Additional Parties (Form 1A)

Attach an Additional Parties (Form 1A) if there is more than one plaintiff or defendant, or the defendant is known by more than one name and there is insufficient space on the Plaintiff’s Claim form.

3

Choose the proper courthouse location.

The courthouse where you file your claim must be either:

  • in the town or city where the event or problem that led to your claim happened (the “cause of action”)
  • in the town or city where the person or business you are suing (or one of the defendants) lives or runs their business
  • the court nearest to where the person or business you are suing (or one of the defendants) lives or runs their business

4

File the Plaintiff’s Claim in the Court and pay the fee.

File the Plaintiff’s Claim and any supporting documents online (if eligible), in-person or by mail. Whether you file your claim online, in-person or by mail, you need to file your claim in the proper courthouse location. The court will stamp and date your claim. Make sure to keep a copy of the documents for your records.

How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims CourtWhat happens after you filed a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court?

After you have filed a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court, several steps will follow. Here is an overview of what typically happens in the process:

1

Serve the defendant

How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims CourtOnce you have filed your Plaintiff’s Claim form, you need to give a copy of the claim and all supporting documents to the defendant. This is called serving the defendants. This can be done by personal service, registered mail, or through a process server. Ensure that the defendant receives the documents within the specified timeframe, usually within 20 days. Read the Guide to Serving Documents for specific rules about how to serve someone:

https://www.ontario.ca/document/guide-procedures-small-claims-court/serving-documents

  • Complete an Affidavit of Service (Form 8A) for each defendant to prove to the court that you served the defendant(s).
  • File all Affidavits of Service with the court office where you filed your claim (you should do this online if you filed your claim online and no other documents have been filed directly with the court).

What happens next depends on how the person you are suing replies to the claim.

Wait for the defendant’s response

After being served, the defendant has a limited period to respond to the claim. Usually, the person or business you are suing has 20 days after being served with your claim to respond.

The defendant may either:

  • file a Defence (Form 9A) admitting part, or all, of your claim that they owe you money, and make a proposal for terms of payment
  • file a Defence (Form 9A) disputing part, or all, of your claim
  • do nothing

In other words, the defendant can file a Defence, which outlines their position and may include any counterclaims they have against you. If the defendant does not file a Defence within 20 days after being served, you can ask the court to have the defendant “noted in default” that may result in a default judgment.

Settlement conference

How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims CourtIf the defendant disputes your claim (or part of it) you will be asked to attend a settlement conference. The purpose of the settlement conference is to discuss the issues in dispute, explore possibilities for settlement, and determine if any further steps, such as mediation or a trial, are necessary.

At the settlement conference, you and the defendant will share evidence and tell their side of the story. If you can agree on a solution, the case ends here. You can ask the judge to decide the case at the settlement conference to avoid going to trial if both parties file a signed Consent (Form 13B).

If all parties can’t come to an agreement during the settlement conference, the next step may be to go to trial.

Trial

How to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims CourtIf the case is not resolved through alternative dispute resolution methods, a trial date will be set. At the trial, both parties present their evidence, witnesses, and arguments before a judge. The judge will evaluate the evidence, make findings of fact, and render a judgment based on the applicable law.

Judgment and enforcement

If the court rules in your favor, you will receive a judgment. If the defendant fails to comply voluntarily with the judgment, you may need to take steps to enforce it. This may involve seeking the court’s assistance in garnishing wages, seizing assets, or exploring other enforcement options.

It’s important to note that the timeline and specific procedures can vary depending on the complexity of the case. It’s advisable to consult with a legal professional or refer to the most up-to-date information provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General for detailed guidance and accurate information on the post-filing process in Ontario Small Claims Court.

By Carlos Perdomo

Licensed Paralegal

Sources:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/suing-someone-small-claims-court

https://www.ontario.ca/page/suing-someone-small-claims-court#section-2

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