Small Claims Court Process

Risks

Risk is an inevitable part of any litigation. Therefore, ACLAiM® strives to supply you with a fair and practical assessment of your case and be aware of your interests from the earliest stages of your Small Claims Court matter.

Successful litigation requires more than being honest and telling your story to the judge. ACLAiM® will determine all vital elements of your case and will advise you if your case is worthwhile to pursue. Litigation is always associated with risk. Even when you have solid case, ACLAiM® will take, at least, the following into consideration:

  • The Chances that the defendant will become Insolvent
  • Facts and evidence to support the facts
  • Options available to the plaintiff
  • The legal issues and supporting case law
  • Cost of litigation.

Strategies

ACLAiM® will help you determine what evidence you need to bring forward in order to win a case or successfully defend a case. Some materials, such as expert witness testimonies or reports, must be arranged well in advance. In order to avoid legal pitfalls and be cost efficient, ACLAiM® will review your case for:

  • The obstacles in obtaining favourable results;
  • Costs analysis of potential litigation;
  • Analysis of existing and required evidence;
  • Reduction or elimination of your liability; and
  • Limitations periods.

Timelines

It is difficult to predict how long it will take until final resolution of your matter. Factors to be considered are:

  • Workload of a particular courthouse;
  • Availability of evidence and witnesses;
  • Your opponents’ reasonableness/willingness to settle; and Adjournments or time extensions asked.
  • Timeframes for certain stages are prescribed by law and a ACLAiM®’s Small Claims Court specialist would advise you of such deadlines as part of the strategic review of your case.

A thorough research based on facts, evidence and case law should be done before drafting the pleadings; the cause of actions, potential defences, damages and cost of litigation should be considered prior to drafting the pleadings.

These pleadings are the foundation of you case and the first thing a judge, opposing party and/or their legal team will review about your case. The pleading has to be clear, concise and based on material facts and law. The entire pleading or part of it could be struck down by courts if it is not based on material facts, causes of action, legal defences and evidence.

Whether drafting the Plaintiff’s Claim, Statement of Defence or Counterclaim, it is extremely important that all elements to prove your case are included in the pleadings. A well written pleading can also lead to an early resolution/settlement.

Settlement conference is a mandatory pre-trial meeting between the opposing party parties. The settlement conferences are “without predujice”, which means any dealings cannot be used by either party at trial. The purposes of settlement conferences are to:

  • Narrow down the issues between the parties;
  • Explore possibilities of resolution;
  • Assist the parties in preparation of the trial; and
  • To obtain facts and evidence from all parties.

Attendance is mandatory. If a party does not attend a settlement conference(s), the judge may order costs against the absentee or give judgement without a trial.

Unless the judge orders otherwise, the matter must be set for a trial by either the plaintiff or the defendant. If the judge does not, there are specific rules to follow and forms to complete in order to request a trial; Failure to do so could result in the entire case being automatically dismissed.

Most people believe that telling their story at the trial is sufficient to win a case. On the contrary, the cases are won based on facts, evidence, presentation of evidence, case law, the rules governing the Small Claims Court and expertise of a Small Claims Court Specialist.

ACLAiM®’s Small Claims Court Specialists know the Rules of Small Claims Court, Rules of evidence, have access to case law and are extensively trained in the art of Direct Examination (questioning witnesses called by the party) and Cross Examination (questioning witnesses called by opposing party).

The probabilities of winning at trial are much higher when you have an ACLAiM®’s Small Claims Court Specialist on your side and by your side.

Although a judgment may sound like a final step in the litigation process, it cannot force the debtor to pay the money as ordered by a Small Claims Court Judge. 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 he/she 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.