Small Claims Court Overview

British Columbia

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

Action Timeline

File and serve claim

The claimant files a notice of claim and blank reply form, and serves these on the defendant. For claims of $3,000 or less the filing fee is $100. For claims more than $3,000 the filing fee is $156.

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 reply with the registrar. The defendant can also file a counter-claim.

The registrar will serve a copy of the reply on the claimant.

Within 14 days if service occurs within British Columbia.

Within 30 days if service occurs outside British Columbia.

Within 21 days of receiving the defendant's reply.

Mediation

For claims up to $10,000, either party can request mediation.

Before a notice of settlement conference is sent.

Application for default judgment

If the defendant does not file a reply with the registrar, the claimant can apply to have a default judgment.

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

Settlement conference

The claimant and the defendant must attend a settlement 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.

At a settlement conference, a judge may refer a claim to mediation with the consent of the parties.

Before a trial date is set.

Possible Outcomes Timeline

Settlement

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.

Within 30 days of a settlement conference.

Within 28 days after being served with the offer to settle.

Withdrawal of the claim or counterclaim

The claimant can withdraw his or her claim and the defendant can withdraw his or her counterclaim.

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

When the defendant fails to appear at a hearing or settlement conference.

Judgment

If there is a trial and both parties appear, the judge will hear the case of both the claimant and the defendant, and will make a judgment using the information presented.

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

The defendant can ask the court to cancel the default order and allow him or her to file a reply.

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 Supreme Court.

Within 40 days of receiving the judgment.

Canada

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