Small claims courts are also known as magistrate courts or county courts, depending on where you live. Small claims courts have as their purpose to try civil cases between private parties; these cases involve monetary amounts that are not particularly large. These courts also sometimes handle other functions, and this is also true in Toronto. Small claims courts do operate independently of superior courts.
The types of claims presented before these types of courts are those of values not exceeding $25,000. Wages owed in lieu of notice by an employer, tenant and landlord disputes, compensation for poor service rendered like in the case of plumbers and compensation for the damage of delivered goods like DVD players are some of the claims brought before a small claims court.
Before you can bring a claim before the court, you need to have attempted to settle your dispute beforehand and have proof of this otherwise you will be penalized by the court. Try to contact the person or persons to negotiate an amicable resolution. If all means to resolve your dispute fails within the one month legal period then write out the particulars of your claim in detail and seek legal representation. Your lawyer will in turn present this to the court. It is also prudent on your part to warn the other party that you will be taking court action.
You’ll need to bring some things with you to small claims court when you present your case. First of all, you will need to prepare two copies of your claim, one for the court and one for yourself. You will need to pay court fees to file a claim, and the claim form will then be served on the defendant, the other party in your case. You can also present the form to the defendant once the court has stamped the document if you so choose. Other documentation, too, may be involved in your small claims case.
If the court decides it will hear your case, you’ll be notified that a final hearing will take place. Two weeks before the final hearing is going to take place, you’ll need to send any copies of documents you’ll be presenting during your case. If you don’t, you’ll be penalized and your case will be postponed. One of the penalties you may have to incur is that you’ll have to pay all the costs of the suit. Your lawyer can help you get through this process and tell you what to do. The court will set a hearing date; if you can’t attend the hearing, you’ll need to put this in writing and state your reasons before you send it to the court.
It can be very frustrating indeed if you don’t have proper legal representation. When the verdict is handed down, it is deemed final. It’s not subject to appeal unless an irregularity has been found in the proceedings or the court did not adhere to the law as it pertained to claim. Only a good lawyer is going to be able to help you find your way through this process. If the defendant is a cooperative, and refuses to cooperate with the court’s ruling, you’ll waste your time and money in small claims court and may force transfer to a higher court. Besides that, you may lose out on monies owed you that were the original subject of your claim. Because of that, it’s very important that you get a good lawyer so that you don’t experience these difficulties.
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