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A Plaintiff’s Claim is the foundation of your case and the first item that will be reviewed by the Defendant, the Defendant’s legal representative and/or the Judge. A well drafted Plaintiff’s Claim, could result in a quick resolution/settlement of the case.

Plaintiff’s Claim serves two purposes:

  • It officially puts a Defendant (the party against which action is brought) on notice that a civil claim has been advanced against the person/company.
  • It describes the nature of liability and gives monetary measure of damages.

By issuing a claim you let the Defendant know that they are being sued. There are specific rules regarding delivery of claim to the Defendant. Failure to follow those rules would invalidate the claim.

Not completing the forms correctly or filing the forms inappropriately or not knowing your rights and obligations could prevent you from recovering your damages.

Statement of Defence is a response to the Plaintiff’s Claim. In the Statement of Defence you explain why you disagree with the claimant’s allegations against you. Alternatively, you can admit to partial liability or admit to the full liability and options to settle. Regardless of the level of your disagreement to the claim, a formal defence must be filed with the court. This indicates that you are either intending to dispute the claim or are taking steps to settle it.

A thoroughly researched and an accurately drafted Statement of Defence is crucial to any Small Claims Court case. The Statement of Defence lets the Plaintiff know that you are serious about defending the claim against you or are willing to settle partial or the entire claim. The early resolution/settlement can he highly influenced by a well drafted Statement of Defence.

There is limited time to file a defence that usually starts from the service of the Plaintiff’s Claim on the Defendant. If this time is elapsed, a Plaintiff can ask the court to note the Defendant in default.

Default status means that the Defendant has lost the right to respond to the allegations and to participate in the court proceedings. This right can only be restored by special permission from the court. While a Defendant is still in default, the court may issue a judgment in the Plaintiff’s favour without a trial. The court does not send a notice to a Defendant regarding default judgment. Knowing your rights and obligations, including right to counterclaim, could impact the final decision.

In addition to filing a statement of defence, the Defendant (the person/company being sued) can also file a claim against the Plaintiff (the person/company suing them). The counterclaim or the facts of the counterclaim have to be related to the Plaintiff’s Claim.

A motion can be defined as a process of asking the court to decide on a limited contested issue. You may ask the court to grant you permission to file a document after deadline or just to overcome an interim disagreement between the parties. A specific example of a motion is asking the court to file a defence after being noted in default or to set aside adefault judgment.

If a party initiates a motion, all other parties must be notified and provided with the motion materials. They will have the right to respond to the motion and dispute it. Initiator of a motion is called Moving Party, other participants are called Respondents. In limited circumstances, a motion can proceed without notifying other parties. The court will grant or deny the motion, with award of costs, where appropriate.

Many crucial aspects of a claim can only be resolved by filing a motion. In order to be successful at a motion, the moving party must almost always address complicated legal issues and follow proper court procedure. Without the help of a Small Claims Court Specialist this task can be extremely complicated. Mistakes made while attempting to deal with your Small Claims Court case by yourself could cost you more than hiring a professional.

A settlement conference is a mandatory pre-trial meeting between the parties and the judge presides at the settlement conference. The purpose of the settlement conference is to:

  1. Narrow down the issues between the parties;
  2. Explore possibilities of resolution;
  3. Assist the parties in preparation of the trial; and
  4. obtain facts and evidence from all parties.

If a party doesn’t attend a settlement conference(s), the judge can award cost against the party or can make a final decision without a trial.

If the settlement is not reached by parties, specific rules must be followed to set the trial date, failure to do so could result in the entire case being dismissed.

A judgment is a final disposition of a court case. The Ontario Small Claims Court can only grant a monetary judgment, i.e. order the losing party to pay to the winning party. The only exception to this rule is order for return of property.

Although a judgment may sound like a final step in the litigation process, it cannot force the debtor to pay the money as ordered. Judgment is an order to pay, but not a guarantee of payment. While in some instances the debtor pays the judgment amount voluntarily, it is not unusual when a Plaintiff must take further steps to enforce judgment. This is especially relevant to the judgments obtained by default. The procedure of putting your judgment into practice is called enforcement.

The right to file a claim in the Small Claims Court can be barred due to the time limitations. Unlike a claim, judgment is valid for much longer time and can be easily extended. If a debtor has no money or assets to satisfy a judgment immediately, with passage of time Plaintiff/Defendant can acquire a job, assets, property, bank accounts all of which can potentially be seized by a meticulous creditor. Managing timeline of your judgment and enforcing it can turn into a full time job. Let ACLAiM® manage your Small Claims Court judgment for you.

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A demand letter is a formal notice demanding that the addressee perform a legal obligation, such as rectifying a problem, paying a sum of money or honouring a contractual commitment, on specific terms and within a specified time. The letter gives the recipient a chance to perform the obligation without being taken to court.

In certain types of legal proceedings, a demand letter is mandatory; a person failing to send it could lose his or her case. It is always best to send a demand letter before instituting legal proceedings; in many instances, it encourages the recipient to settle the matter out of court.

At the trial both parties will have the chance to tell their side of the story. You can present your own case or be represented by a paralegal or a lawyer. You present your case by producing relevant documents, calling witnesses and/or testifying yourself. Once both parties have presented their cases the judge will make a decision based on the law and the evidence admitted in court.

It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the defendant owes the amount of the claim or should pay damages for some wrongdoing. Similarly it is the defendant’s responsibility to prove their counterclaim or third party claim.

If you are the plaintiff and you win the case you become the creditor. The court will order the defendant (debtor) to pay money to you or to give you goods. The debtor may pay right away or may ask you for more time to pay.

If the debtor does not make the payments ordered, there are steps you can take to get the money or goods. This is called enforcing the judgment.

You have two options for trying to get the money:

  • 1. Garnishment (e.g., bank accounts or wages)

or

  • 2. Seizure and sale of personal property or land.