Small Claims Court Tips for Vancouver Area
Small Claims Court is characterized by the Ministry of Justice as a “do-it yourself” court for members of the public who are non-lawyers. However, more and more disputes that fall within the Court’s jurisdiction are seeing the involvement of lawyers on one or both sides. While, the court’s rules and procedures are designed to make it simpler and less costly for people to resolve disputes, involving a lawyer can often strengthen a litigant’s chance at winning their case.
Whether you’re interested in commencing a small claims court action or may have to defend a claim in the future, you should know these 6 things:
1) The amounts claimed in a small claims action cannot exceed $25,000.
This limit includes all claims listed on the notice of claim, no matter how many defendants there are, and it includes the value of any goods that the claimant is asking for.
It does not include any interest or expenses that the claimant might be entitled to. The ‘costs’ or expenses that anyone can claim in small claims court are quite limited, and are typically limited to the filing fee and the cost of document service.
2) Certain claims or remedies cannot be pursued in a small claims action.
Equitable claims related to trusts, equitable remedies such as injunctions, family law, property claims, claims for title to land, and claims involving libel and slander must be commenced in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. A BC lawyer can provide you with more information about whether your claim is suitable for small claims court.
3) A default judgment can be awarded against a defendant who fails to respond or participate.
If you’ve been served with a notice of claim, make sure to file a reply within the stated time period. If a Defendant fails to respond and the Claimant is able to demonstrate to the registry or court that the Defendant was properly served, the Claimant can obtain default judgment. A default judgment order is treated the same as a judgment obtained following trial and can be validly enforced against the Defendant.
4) A judgment obtained from small claims court can be appealed.
A decision in small claim’s court can be appealed to the British Columbia Supreme Court. Appealing to Supreme Court can be much more costly and time consuming. Contact a lawyer to discuss your case – a lawyer can help you assess the merits and costs of an appeal.
5) Obtaining judgment does not guarantee that you will be paid.
It is not uncommon to encounter difficulty when attempting to collect on a judgment. The law provides fairly extensive remedies to creditors seeking to enforce a judgment. Options include garnishment, liens, payment hearing, and orders for seizure and sale. Prior to commencing a claim in court, it is important to consider the likelihood that a successful judgment will be paid, particularly if the defendant has minimal assets.
6) Each registry has its own rules and procedures
For example, in Vancouver’s Robson Square Registry litigants must file a trial statement within a specified period or their evidence may not be heard in court. The Surrey Registry does not use trial statements. It is important to know what rules and procedures apply in the registry where your claim is located.
Contacting our Vancouver Small Claims Court Lawyers
If you’re commencing or defending a claim in Small Claims Court, please contact Kushner Law Group to discuss how we may assist you.
Click here to read more Small Claims Court tips from our Vancouver Lawyers.