Small Claims COurt FAQs

Preparing your Small Claims Court Claim

When writing your Small Claims Court it is important to follow these simple rules:

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep to the facts.
  • Number your paragraphs
  • No need to recite the evidence you will rely upon
  • Use dates and be specific wherever possible
  • Explain what lead up to the event, what happened to cause the conflict, Why the other side owes you money, explain attempts to obtain payment, and how do you calculate the amount owing.

Serving your Small Claims Court Claim

If you are serving the claim yourself on a business:

  • Do you have a corporate search? If not, you will want this prior to issuing and/or serving your claim. See our video on “suing a business” or “what is a corporate search”
  • it must be hand-delivered to the company and left with the person in charge at the time of your attendance.
  • If there is only one person in attendance at the time of service, they are assumed to be in charge
  • You need to obtain the name and position of the person you leave it with
  • You need to take note of the date and time you serve it.
  • If the company is no longer at the registered head office address, and you have attempted to serve the claim there, you can send it by regular mail to the address, and to the address of all directors outlined on the corporate profile report

If you are serving the claim yourself on an individual:

  • obtain the name of the individual in the household that you are giving the claim to, if not the party you are serving – if they don’t provide it to you, that’s ok.
  • No signatures are required when serving a claim on your own
  • Take note of the date and time of the service
  • Do not leave it with someone who appears to be under the age of 16
  • If serving them at work, you must hand-deliver it to the person you are suing. You cannot leave it with anyone else at the place of work.
  • You cannot leave the claim in a mailbox or at the front door.
  • Someone must be home to accept service. If they choose not to accept service you can leave it at their feet, but only after confirming the individual lives at the address with the party, you are serving.

Once your claim is issued, you have a very specific time period to serve the claim. In Ontario you have 6 months to serve your claim, and in AB you have 1 year. If you cannot serve your claim within this time frame you will need to file a motion or application to extend the time for service.

It is recommended to attempt to serve the document at varying times of the day and on weekends. This is important if the legal documents do not get served and as you will need to prepare and file an Affidavit of Attempted Service. In the affidavit the court will want to know that you have tried at appropriate times of the day.

Small Claims Court Limitation Dates

If you are in negotiations with the opposing party and are approaching your limitation date, you may want to secure your right to proceed with legal by issuing a claim. You do not need to serve it if you reach an agreement with the opposing party. You may also want to protect your limitation period by issuing a claim against the opposing party even if you cannot confirm their address for service or know they cannot pay the debt at the moment, but will likely be in a position to pay in the future.

A Limitation date is a limit on how long you can wait before making a claim. 

The basic rule in calculating your Limitation Period is 2 years from the date of the event or default. However, some actions require a more in-depth look at the calculation of the limitation period start and end date. If you have a simple unpaid debt, you can usually rely on the date of the last payment or date of an invoice, to calculate the start of the limitation clock, however, in some cases it may start earlier, or can be extended.

If the claim is regarding an event or damages outside of a simple unpaid debt, the limitation period generally starts from the date of the event, or the date you became aware you may have suffered damages. This can be subjective in some cases and you may want to research the issue of limitations further.

When the limitation period is a question you need to be answered, it is best to contact a paralegal to assist you in determining the date of the limitations.

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