Succeeding in Small Claims Court, Vancouver BC
Vancouver Lawyer – Succeeding at Small Claims Court
In 2005, the Government of British Columbia increased the limit in Small Claims Court to claims under $25,000. While the increased limit is considered a good move with respect to access for justice, it has also increased the risks and liability for people who are getting sued.
In order to make sure that you are successful in either proceeding with a legitimate claim or defeating an illegitimate one, here are some helpful tips to consider.
1) Do Not Attempt A Trial By Ambush
Hollywood has given many lay litigants the mistaken impression that the best way to win a lawsuit is to “surprise” your opponent with new documents that you have not disclosed at the day of trial. This is simply not the case in British Columbia. Many Small Claims Court registries have their own specific rules and procedures relating to evidence and generally you cannot introduce new evidence without first providing it to the other side.
2) Know The BC Law
While many litigants attempt to proceed without lawyers, that does not mean that legal principles and precedents can be ignored. While Judges must of course make decisions based on the evidence in front of them, having a precedent or a case with similar facts that supports your argument will help you be persuasive.
3) Keep A Paper Trail…And Organize It
When two people have very different recollections of the facts, Judges will often look to the documents to find out what really happened. If you have relevant documents for your case such as a contract or some correspondence, it’s important that you keep your documents organized and ready to be presented to the Judge. Preparing a book of documents is a good idea and usually a welcome sight for a Judge.
4) Hire a Lawyer
The $25,000 limit increase means that going to Small Claims Court can have real and significant financial ramifications. Many law firms including the Kushner Law Group assist clients at various stages of Small Claims Proceedings from helping to prepare documents to presenting a client’s case in Court. Just because you don’t need a lawyer, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hire one.