Whether you are suing someone or need to defend yourself and being sued, Legal Solutions can assist you. Small Claims Court deals with claims upto $35,000. We offer Free Consultations and Payment Plans to protect your rights.
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Small Claims Court – What You Need To Know
You have been served a Plaintiff’s Claim meaning someone is suing you. You feel helpless, scared, probably angry and worried about the consequences. These are all regular feelings at this time. This is the time to get a small claims lawyer to defend you. A lawyer will review the claim and draft, serve and file a Defense on your behalf. This must be done within 20 days of receiving the Claim. A Defense is not a story about what happened. It is a mix of what happened with legal argument as to why you do not owe the Plaintiff any money. The public often make this mistake by trying to represent themselves and don’t have the legal background to win the case. You also have the option at this point to bring a Defendant’s Claim which is to essentially sue the Plaintiff back for damages you believe you have suffered. A small claims lawyer can properly assess whether you have a valid claim and chances of success. Many lawyers do offer free consultations for these matters and will advise you what steps you should take.
The alternative situation is someone has stolen from you, ripped you off, harmed you in some way or various other situations that could give rise to a claim. You have damages and wish to sue as a result. This is the time to speak to a lawyer. If the claim has merit, a small claims lawyer should draft your Plaintiff’s Claim, serve and file it. The other side will have 20 days to respond to the claim. If the other side does not respond within the 20 days, your lawyer can note them in default and proceed to have a court hearing before a judge to get you judgment. Think of it as a mini trial where you will testify and your lawyer will assist in getting the judge to grand judgement.
Let’s assume one side brought a Claim and the other has filed a Defense, the next step is for your lawyer to collect evidence to assist in your case. This evidence must be shared with the other side and a Settlement Conference scheduled. A Settlement Conference is where all parties and representatives attend court and go in front of a judge. This is a mandatory step in the process that gives the parties a chance to settle the case before going to trial. A neutral judge will give input to both sides so you get a fair assessment of your case and you can either settle or proceed to trial. Having a lawyer advocate for you to the judge is very helpful in getting the judge on your side and pushing the other side into settlement. It is not uncommon for a case to have more then one Settlement Conference but it depends on various factors.
It is important to note that unlike family law or criminal law where the vast majority of cases will settle, small claims court is an area where it is much more likely that the case will proceed to Trial.
Again, let’s assume the parties don’t settle at the Settlement Conference. All evidence must be exchanged and the case is set down for a Trial. A Trial is similar to what you see on TV. Rules of evidence must be followed, witnesses are often summoned and having a competent lawyer to question and conduct cross examination is essential to convincing a judge of your position and winning your case. A Trial can last 1 day, 2 days or multiple days. After all the witnesses are questioned, the lawyer’s can give closing submissions which may include case law to get the judge on your side. It is important to note that cases can settle the day of trial or even midway through a trial.
Let’s turn to the issue of costs. Generally, the losing party will pay a portion of the costs of the winning party. This is at the discretion of the trial judge but the general rule is you will get 15% extra on top of what you were awarded at trial plus disbursements. If an Offer to Settle was made before Trial, you can ask the judge for up to 30% extra of the judgement plus disbursements.
Please contact Legal Solutions Law Firm at 416-274-2222 for your free no obligation consultation. We are happy to further discuss your case and quote for our services to get you out of the situation you are in. We are confident in our ability to do that.
Legal Solutions Law Firm offers flat fee arrangements and payment plans so you don’t have to worry about hourly rates or paying every time you pick up the phone to call us or send us an email.
*The above article is not meant to provide legal advice but more of a summary of the process and our experience with the criminal justice system. All cases are unique and different and results in one case do not guarantee similar results in another.
Small Claims Court in Toronto: Do You Need a Small Claim Lawyer?
Once a person has decided to follow a remedy in small claims court, the question that usually follows would be: “Do I need a lawyer to perform this?”
The answer to that question might vary. Like so many questions of law, it is yes, and it is a no. But why is that?
You see, the small claims rules are made for individuals with no legal training. Small claims are designed to help questions of law and fact briefly. That only makes that the Keep It Simple (KIS) principle applies. The majority of litigants in small claims court represent themselves. However, some employ experienced and qualified law students or paralegals. Lawyers are utilized less frequently.
Given the monetary limitation of $35,000 within small claims court, at the same time, the limitation on prices to 15% of the claim, it’s often hard to rationalize employing a lawyer or other representatives to defend in small claims court from a financial point of view.
That does not denote that there is no role for any legal advice.
Now, if you are considering a lawsuit, or you’re being sued, there’s no alternative for an opinion from a certified professional when it comes to the process, liability and damages. What’s more, as a plaintiff, do you have the case? What’s the value of your claim? Are small claims the right place or is there other ways to further your problem?
As a defendant, do you have your claim to advance? What defences are accessible? For either party, how do you make the most of the costs award? Should you win or lessen the costs payable should you lose?
Now, if you find yourself in a case where a legal fix can be sought in small claims court, it could be a great idea to consult a small claims lawyer for advice, even if that lawyer does not come to court with you or take care of the paperwork. You see, litigation is not always about the money. You will also find personal or legal or even valid business purpose at play in deciding to defend or sue.
Is It Necessary to Hire a Lawyer?
What’s the bottom line? A lawyer is not necessary for small claims court in Toronto, and while it might not make financial sense to be represented in court through a lawyer. However, it might be practical to invest in a couple of hours of a lawyer’s time to help you elucidate concerns and options should you find yourself involved in a small claims case.
How to Win When You Go to Small Claims Court?
Home buyers will normally sue sellers in small claims court over issues which arise after closing once the amount in dispute is $35,000 or much less. The primary reason is that you could make a claim without a lawyer and the charges are comparatively low. However, although you do not need a lawyer in Toronto, you’re much better off with some professional help, either from a paralegal or lawyer.
That’s mainly because they are typical mistakes people make when they do this by themselves, including:
- They do not present enough evidence to justify their claims, such as a clear explanation of the order of events, receipts, invoices and more others.
- People do not sue the correct person. For instance, they sue a company without the term “Limited” at the end. Any conclusion gained might be useless.
- People forget that the majority of lawsuits should be bought within two years or you forfeit your power to sue.
Now, since small courts hearings are always open to the public, it is a better idea for anyone considering filing a claim to watch. They must understand and see how they work and what the judge like and does not like.
A lawyer or paralegal will assess no matter what your claim is. He or she will provide you with an opinion of its benefit, but more fundamentally, will ask whether you’ll be able to get any money once you win. If you win in a Toronto court, often after two years, the judge doesn’t ask the loser for a cheque. You need to collect that money individually.
There’s less point spending time and money to get a judgement from someone if you cannot collect. To garnish wages, you must understand how they work. To pursue their bank accounts, you need to understand where they bank. To go after a real estate, you need to know where they might possess property.
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