SMALL CLAIMS COURT
In Ontario, the Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The small claims courts are meant to be an easier and less expensive way to resolve disputes, than in the higher courts. Small Claims Court procedure is regulated both by provincial legislation and rules. Small claims procedure is simplified with no strict pleadings requirements, no formal discovery process and parties costs may be limited. For example, the forms in Small Claims Court use a fill-in-the-blank style. The person or business starting the case is called the plaintiff. The person or business being sued is called the defendant.
Small Claims Court is now an option for Ontarians and businesses with monetary disputes up to $25,000.
Previously, it was only available for disputes up to $10,000. In Small Claims Court you can only sue for money or the return of personal property. If the amount of your claim is more than $25,000, 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.
If the amount of your claim is more than $25,000, you can still go to Small Claims Court, BUT:
- You will have to give up any money that you are owed over $25,000.
- You will have to give up your right to sue for this money in any other court.
Remember, if the case is less than $500, you cannot make a claim in Small Claims Court!
TYPES OF THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT DISPUTES
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 $25,000, excluding interest and costs such as court fees.
The Small Claims Court hears disputes on a wide range of matters:
- contracts for goods and services
- debt collection
- damage to real and personal property
- services rendered
- professional malpractice and negligence
- tort actions (wrongful acts that result in damages or injury)
- consumer issues
- S.F. cheque
- unpaid invoice/accounts for goods or services sold and delivered
- promissory note
- Landlord/Tenant disputes (rent arrears, failure to return security deposit, destruction of rental property)
- breach of warranty (claim that an item purchased does not work the way it is supposed to work)