What To Do If I Am Being Sued In Small Claims Court?
I Just Received A Statement Of Claim, What Do I Do?
If you receive something called a “Statement of Claim” from small claims court that means someone is suing you. The reasons for the suit will be stated in the claim, hence the name. It is important to respond promptly and appropriately in order to protect your legal rights.
Whatever you do, do not ignore a statement of claim. Even if the things alleged in the claim are complete nonsense, it is still important to respond so that you can prove to the court that the allegations are nonsense. If you do not respond the plaintiff, the person suing you, may win automatically even if they are in the wrong.
The first thing you should do is read all the documents you have received very carefully. You need to make sure you know what the lawsuit is about and how long you have to respond.
If you disagree with any aspect of the statement of claim, you can fight the lawsuit. In order to do that you need to file something called a “Statement of Defence” with the court. The Statement of Claim was the plaintiff’s side of the story, so the Statement of Defence is your chance to tell your side of the story and refute any claims you disagree with. You can find the appropriate forms to file a Statement of Defence at the small claims court office or online. Alternatively you can hire a paralegal to draft and file a Statement of Defence for you. There will be a filing deadline, so make sure you complete and file your Defence before it expires!
If you feel you we the true victim who was wronged by the Plaintiff, you can also file a countersuit and sue them at the same time. This requires filing a Defendant’s Claim, which is like a Statement of Claim but with the Plaintiff and Defendant reversed.
No matter what you file with the court, you’ll also need to serve copies on the other parties.
What happens next depends on how the other side responds. Oracle recommends anyone being sued retain legal representation to help them navigate the sometimes cloudy waters of the legal system.
How Do I Sue Someone In Small Claims?
In order to bring a claim in Small Claims Court you must first file a Statement of Claim. You can find the appropriate forms to file a Statement of Claim at the small claims court office or online. Alternatively you can hire a paralegal to draft and file a Statement of Claim for you.
The Statement of Claim is where you can tell the story of what happened, what damages you suffered as a result of what happened, and what remedy you are claiming to rectify what happened. In Small Claims your remedy is almost always going to take the form of paying damages, or in other words, monetary compensation.
Once you have drafted your Statement of Claim you will need to serve it on all parties. The parties are the individuals involved in the suit. You, the plaintiff, are one party. The person you’re suing, the defendant, is another. There may be other parties as every case is unique. This is an important step as you will need to prove you served the defendant if they don’t respond and you seek a default judgment.
Once your claim has been served you can file it, along with the affidavits of service, with the court. If the defendant doesn’t file a Statement of Defence contesting your claim you could even be granted a default judgment. That’s like winning automatically. Much more likely, however, is that the Defence will be filed and the matter will proceed from there.
Oracle Legal Services can represent you in Small Claims Court litigation, the jurisdiction for which is up to $35,000.
The foregoing was a generalized statement and does not represent legal advice or the formation of a client relationship with Oracle Legal Services.
What Kind Of Things Can I Sue For In Small Claims Court?
Small Claims is one of the most accessible levels of court. But what kind of matters will this “people’s court” hear?
Examples of the types of cases that the Small Claims Court will hear include but are not limited to:
- Unpaid accounts for goods or services
- Unpaid loans
- Unpaid rent
- NSF cheques
- Property damage
- Clothes damages by dry cleaner
- Personal injury
- Breach of contract
The Small Claims Court can handle any action for the payment of money or the recovery of personal property where the amount claimed does not exceed $35,000 (excluding interest and costs such as court fees). This includes the value of all goods that the plaintiff is asking for in total, regardless of how many defendants there are.
You can still use Small Claims Court to sue for matters where the total damages exceed $35,000, but you have to waive any amount in excess of $35,000. This means you wouldn’t be able to later sue the same people in a higher court to recover the rest of the money.
It ’s also not permissible to divide the amount of money you are claiming into separate cases. For example, if someone did $40,000 worth of damage to your home, you couldn’t open one case for $35,000 and another for $5,000. All the damages from a single incident or related series of incidents must be pursued together.