The Small Claims Court (SCSM) as an option to pursue a civil claim can be highly advantageous and practical for a number of reasons. The SCSM process has the potential of being an expeditious way to settle your matter or obtain a judgment in a cost-effective, time-efficient manner with Monkhouse Law.
We have set out what we believe at Monkhouse Law are the top 5 benefits of having your matter pursued through the Small Claims Court process.
- Representation by an experienced Paralegal is available
Paralegals have the ability to represent clients in SCSM matters, which means that seeking representation at a lower cost is achievable. Further, throughout a Paralegal’s education, they receive more in-depth training on litigating small claims matters given the breadth of their practise area is smaller than that of a lawyer. Thus it is possible that an experienced Paralegal could have the upper hand over a lawyer or other representative.
- Simplified Rules and Ease of Moving Matters Forward
It is possible that the small claims matter can move faster than it would in Superior Court. The nature of the SCSM practice is to have claims for smaller amounts to be dealt with in an efficient, streamlined process. This includes attending settlement conferences, which eliminates the need to attend other out of court examinations.
The SCSM process is set up in a way to have matters handled as efficiently as possible and thus it is more difficult (although not impossible) for either party to delay the process, particularly because there are fewer steps in between issuing the claim and getting a trial date.
- Fast Settlement Conferences
Settlement Conferences are booked for the parties automatically after having issued your claim in SCSM. Once the small claims court receives the claim and the opposing party’s defence, the conference is scheduled within 2-3 months in order to have the parties speak in-person about the matter openly, and hopefully with the intention to settle the matter the same day.
- Lower Disbursements
Pursuing a trial can be lengthy, expensive, and stressful. Many SCSM matters are resolved on a negotiation basis rather than having to appear in a courtroom. It costs less to start a claim in the small claims court, and there are no costs for attending mediations or discoveries.
If the matter goes to trial in SCSM, it is half the price to get a trial date by setting the matter down for trial, so disbursements are significantly lower by pursuing this process.
- Some costs if you win, and lower potential costs if you lose
Many people rightfully have concerns about the possibility of losing their claim and having judgment ordered against them. In the event that a party loses the matter at the trial level, generally costs are capped at $3,750 unless a party acts unreasonably. Comparing this to the Superior Court costs can be in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is reasonable to say that the risk is much lower.
If you are successful in the matter while an award of costs will be lower, it allows for some covering of some legal fees, unlike other venues, such as the Ministry of Labour.
Author: Daniel Pallag (Small Claims Court and Human Rights Division)
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