You have two options at Small Claims Court. You can either:
- Use a special application process to deal with the auto repair bill, or
- Sue the repair shop directly.
Special application process
When you use the special application process, you pay the full amount of the bill to the court. The repair shop must then return the car to you within three days. After this, the court decides how much money will go to the shop, and how much to give back to you. The court will usually make their decision within 90 days.
You will need a special form to make an auto repair claim. Ask the court staff for a Form 2 under the Repair and Storage Liens Act. You can get this form directly from the court.
You should also ask the court for the Guide to Money Paid into Court. You can speak to court staff by calling:
Toll-free …………… 1-800-518-7901
Toronto area ……….. 416-326-2220
TTY Toll-free ……….1-877-425-0575
TTY Toronto area …...416-326-4012
Sue the repair shop
If you are asking for $35,000 or less, and you decide not to use the application process, you may be able to sue the repair shop in regular Small Claims Court.
You must file your claim within 2 years of when you first learned about the problem.
You do not need a lawyer to represent you in small claims court. But, talking to a lawyer can help you understand the court process.
The Ministry of the Attorney General has a self-help guide for Small Claims Court on its website.
If you want to sue for more than $35,000, you have to do this in Superior Court. It's very hard to do this without a lawyer. If you want to sue in Superior Court, you should try to get legal help.
If you have a low income, you might be able to get help from Pro Bono Ontario for cases in Small Claims Court or Superior Court.
There are some reasons why you might not want to sue in court, including:
- you have to pay court fees.
- if you lose, the court could order you to pay some of the repair shop’s legal costs.
- it can be a lot more work for you, especially if you don’t have a lawyer
- it usually takes a lot of time.
- if you win but the repair shop doesn't pay, it's up to you to try to collect the money.