Small Claims Court Overview

Ontario

Small claims are brought in the Small Claims Court, a division of the Superior Court of Justice. The court has jurisdiction over claims not exceeding $25,000.00.

Action Timeline

File and serve claim

Plaintiff must:

  1. file the claim with the clerk;
  2. serve claim on the defendant; and
  3. file an affidavit of service with the clerk after serving the defendant.

The cost of filing a claim is $75.

This is done when the action is initiated.

Plaintiff's claim must be served on the defendant within 6 months after clerk issues claim.

The defendant has the opportunity to respond

From the date of service, the defendant can pay the full amount of the claim, or dispute the claim and/or file a counterclaim against the plaintiff. The defendant can also admit all or part of the claim and propose terms of payment.

The filing fee to dispute the claim is $40. The filing fee is $75 if the defendant wishes to counterclaim.

Within 20 days of receiving the plaintiff's claim.

Application for default judgment

If a defendant does not file a defence with the clerk, the plaintiff can apply to have a judgment order.

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

Settlement Conferences

If the defendant defends the action a settlement conference must be held before a judge. The purpose of the settlement conference is to narrow the issues, to encourage settlement and to assist the parties in preparing for the trial. If no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial.

Within 90 days after defendant files a Defence.

Offers to Settle

A party can make an offer to settle. If the offer is accepted, the case ends without a trial. If a party breaches a term of the settlement, the settlement can be enforced by the Court.

Any time before judge’s final decision.

Possible Outcomes Timeline

Withdrawal of the claim or counterclaim

Either party can withdraw the claim or counterclaim if the defendant does not file a Defence against the claim or counterclaim within 20 days of being served. The party that the withdrawal favoured may make an application for costs.

On or before the date of the hearing.

Award of a default judgment

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

When a claimant or defendant fails to appear at a hearing.

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.

On, or as soon as possible following, the date of the hearing.

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 can apply to have the 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 Divisional Court if the action is $2,500 or more.

Following the judgment.

Canada

Share...


Print(opens in a new window)