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What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is a branch of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. It was designed to provide an efficient and cost-effective forum for Plaintiffs to bring or defend claims that are worth $35,000 or less.

When suing in Small Claims Court, you can sue for money owed under an agreement, or for damages, including;

  • property damage,
  • personal injuries,
  • breach of contract.

Small Claims Court is typically an appropriate venue when your legal matter is relatively simple. It’s meant to be faster and cheaper than the Simplified Trial Process or Ordinary procedures of the Superior Court. If you have a claim that’s above $35,000, you can still elect to proceed in Small Claims Court, but your recovery will be capped at the $35,000.

What do I need to consider before suing in Small Claims Court?

When considering the appropriate forum, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer to determine whether your matter is appropriate for the streamlined and relatively limited forum of the Small Claims Court.

You will want to consider the following;

  • the approximate value of your claim,
  • the legal complexity of your case,
  • the costs associated with bringing the lawsuit,
  • whether the limitation period has expired,
  • whether the person you are suing has money to pay a judgment if you are successful.

The Ontario government has published a helpful guide on the procedural steps in Small Claims Court.

If you decide to start a claim in Small Claims Court, you should also take the time to review the Rules of the Small Claims Court, which set out the Court’s expectations on how to proceed with the lawsuit. Contact a trusted lawyer to help guide you through all of the important decisions you’ll have to make when starting a claim.

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