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Small Claims

Small Claims are not for the faint of heart

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Know Your Terrain…

before undertaking self-representation

Small Claims Court is one of three tiers of court that addresses civil litigation matters of up to $35,000 in Ontario (excluding interests and costs).  The other two are the Superior Court of Justice, which handles civil matters over $100,000 and the Superior Court of Justice-Simplified Procedures, which handles cases over $35,000 and up to $100,000.

Small Claims Court is intended to improve the public’s access to justice in a more speedy and cost-effective manner.  Parties may choose to follow the route of self-representation as there tends to be more leniency by judges to allow for legal training deficiencies and less than adequate knowledge of legal/court procedures by non-legal representatives.

HillCowan makes going to court an advantage for you!

Before embarking on this ‘self-representation’ path, keep in mind that the procedures can be confusing for those without legal background; that the legal drafting of documentation and complying with the rules or procedures, for a Statement of Claim, a Defence, or a Defendant’s Claim as examples, whether you are suing or being sued, can be daunting even if your mother language is English.

You will need to have all your evidence at hand to support these claims and you will have the opportunity to “Examine”, “Cross-Examine” and “Re-Examine”.  You will need to bring to bear interviewing techniques to ask the right questions and to follow the strategies and tactics you have prepared in advance. You will also need to be utterly cool, calm and collected and be able to think on your feet and out-of-the-box. If you have doubts about any of the above, you need to call us.

James knows going to court can be extremely stressful.  You don’t know the court room environment, the proceedings and the procedures, the court workers… James helps to de-stress the situation for you. James is by your side every step of the way and brings balance to the proceedings.  This is not a time to take chances and believe that you will get assistance from the presiding judge – it doesn’t work this way.  HillCowan fights for you!

Common Small Claims Court actions

  • unpaid accounts for goods and services
  • unpaid loans
  • unpaid rent (see Landlord and Tenant Issues)
  • NSF cheques
  • property damage
  • personal injuries
  • torts
  • breach of contract

It takes knowledge and experience to establish winning strategies.

James Hill is an expert in Small Claims Courts matters.  Trust James to intimately know and understand the Courts of Justice Act, the statute that sets out the court system in Ontario.  Small Claims Court governing principles are set out in sections 22 through 33.1 of this Act.

Send the opposing party a very clear message – You mean business! By bringing James on board to represent you, you are letting the opposing party know that you have options that you are ready to exercise.  if a person or company owes you money and they refuse to pay – you will be prepared with James of HillCowan by your side because he will establish in advance the strategies needed to dramatically improve your chances of success beyond self-representation.

See “The HillCowan Approach” for more information on how we push the envelope and represent you (advocacy) for improved positive results.

HillCowan is with you every step of the way.

HillCowan is by your side every step of the way through the Small Claims Court process:

  1. James will first establish with you whether or not the path to issuing a Statement of Claim is worth the effort.  That is, we must first assess whether it is cost-effective to litigate against a certain defendant.
  2. James will conduct searches to determine if the potential defendant should be sued. For example, is the defendant “judgment-proof” (that is, a defendant who has no income or assets against which the judgment may be enforced)?
  3. James will also thoroughly examine if there is another route to pursue to settle the matter (in general, 90% of all civil actions do not go to trial – Civil actions can be settled through negotiation, mediation or a pre-trial settlement conference).  If this matter is part of the 10%, then,
  4. A ‘Demand Letter’ will be served to the defendant to attempt to resolve the matter before it goes any further (e.g., if acting for the creditor, the Demand Letter is served to the debtor).

Of course, HillCowan also represents defendants, and so, should our client who is the defendant receive a Statement of Claim, James will assess what some of the legal and ethical considerations are in deciding whether to file the defendant’s claim and following agreement, reply with due diligence with a Statement of Defence.  This must be done quickly.  A defendant who is served personally with a claim has 20 days within which to prepare and file a defence.

Enforcement of Judgements

Know this – just because you have obtained a judgement, does not guarantee that you will receive your money.  You may have received a ruling from the Court but the Court is not responsible for collecting the money from the defendant.  There are various ways to collect the money that is owing to you:

  1. Examination of Hearing of Judgement Debtor (process to financially examine the debtor at the hearing)
  2. Move to enforce the judgment through garnishment of wages, or
  3. Seizing property through the Sheriff’s office.

Should the situation require, HillCowan will issue writs of execution (i.e., writ of seizure and sale, write of seizure and sale of lands or other similar document).  A Writ of Execution is a court order or statutory authority that allows a creditor to instruct a sheriff, (four months after filing the writ), to seize and sell assets or property of a debtor to satisfy an unpaid judgement.

  • Important to Note: The actual sale of the land cannot proceed unless the writ has been on file for at least six (6) months.

Contact HillCowan Today!

To better assist you, bring all your relevant documentation.
Let’s resolve this legal matter – NOW!

By Appointment Only.



HillCowan Legal Services Professional Corporation is a licensed member
in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada. The Law Society of Upper Canada logo is a trademark owned by The Law Society of Upper Canada.