Small Claims Court Overview

Alberta

Small claims are brought in the Civil Division of the Provincial Court. The court has jurisdiction over claims not exceeding $25,000.00

Action Timeline

File and serve claim

The claimant files a civil claim form and dispute note, and serves these on the defendant.

For claims of $7,500 or less the filing fee is $100. For claims more than $7,500 the filing fee is $200.

This is done when the action is initiated.

The defendant has the opportunity to respond

From the date of service, the defendant has a set amount of time to file a dispute note with the court office. The defendant can also file a counter-claim.

The court clerk will serve a copy of the reply on the claimant.

Within 20 days if service occurs within Alberta.

Within 30 days if service occurs outside Alberta.

Application for default judgment

If the defendant does not file a dispute note with the court, the claimant can apply to have a default judgment.

After the timeframe noted above for the filing of a dispute note by a defendant.

Mediation and pre-trial conference

After a dispute is filed, the court clerk or a mediation co-ordinator may refer the case to mediation. Alternatively, a judge may order a pre-trial conference to give the parties the opportunity to settle the case without a trial.

At the pre-trial conference, a judge meets with parties and may decide on issues that don’t require evidence, make any order agreed to by the parties, discuss evidence and trial procedure, make other orders related to the conduct of the case, dismiss a claim or counterclaim.

Before a trial date is set.

Possible Outcomes Timeline

Settlement

A party can make an offer to settle at any time. A defendant who wishes to settle can arrange for a payment hearing if he or she wants to make periodic payments and the plaintiff doesn’t agree to this.

A party offers to settle by serving the other party with an offer to settle.

To accept the offer to settle, the other party must complete and serve an offer to accept on the other party.

At any time.

Withdrawal of the claim or counterclaim

Either party can withdraw the claim or counterclaim at any time before the hearing. The party that the withdrawal favoured may make an application for costs.

An application for costs can be made within 30 days after the notice of withdrawal is sent by the clerk.

Any time before the hearing.

Dismissal of the claim

If the claimant fails to appear on the date set for the hearing or a pre-trial conference, the court may dismiss the claim.

When a claimant fails to appear at a hearing or pre-trial conference.

Award of a default judgment

If either party fails to appear on the date set for the hearing or a pre-trial conference, the court may award a default judgment in regards to the claim.

When a claimant or defendant fails to appear at a hearing or pre-trial conference.

Judgment

Judgments may be rendered at the end of the trial, however, sometimes, depending on the complexity of the matter and the evidence provided, a judge may reserve the rendering of his or her decision until as soon as possible after the hearing.

Verbally at the end of hearing (or at a later date).

A written decision will take effect on the day it is filed with the registrar.

Further Options Timeline

Application to set aside a default judgment

When there is a default judgment, the party who failed to appear at the date set for the hearing or a pre-trial conference (in respect to the claim filed) can apply to have this judgment set aside.

Upon learning of the judgment.

Appeal to a higher court

The appellant, or party who appeals the decision of the lower court, can appeal to the Court of Queen's Bench.

Within 30 days of receiving the judgment.

Canada

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