How can I sue in Small Claims Court?

Because of COVID-19, the Small Claims Court has changed some of its processes. You can learn more in the question: How is Small Claims Court handling cases during COVID-19?

If you think someone owes you money or has broken the rules of a contract, you can sue them in court. This includes some employment issues, such as wrongful dismissal and unpaid wages.

If you're asking for $35,000 or less, you can file a claim in Small Claims Court. But if you're asking for more, you must do that in Superior Court. If what you are owed is more than $35,000, but you are willing to waive the amount over $35,000, then you can still file in Small Claims Court.

You must file your claim within 2 years of when you first learned about the problem.

Other solutions

Before you decide to sue someone, try other ways of solving the problem such as:

  • sending a letter demanding they pay the money they owe you
  • getting a mediator to help resolve your issue

Things to consider

Suing isn't always the best option. Here are some reasons you may not want to sue:

  • Unless you're able to get a fee waiver, you have to pay court fees.
  • If you lose, the court could order you to pay some or all of the legal costs of the person you tried to sue.
  • It may take a long time, even over a year, and involve a lot of work for you, especially if you don't have a lawyer.
  • If you win but the person you sued doesn't pay, it's up to you to collect the money.

Legal help

You do not need a lawyer to go to Small Claims Court. But you'll probably understand the court process better if you talk to a paralegal or lawyer.

If you earn a low income, you might be able to get legal help from Pro Bono Ontario. Pro Bono Ontario helps with cases in Small Claims Court and Superior Court.

In Ottawa and Toronto, Pro Bono Ontario provides duty counsel lawyers at Small Claims Court. Duty counsel lawyers give advice and can sometimes help you represent yourself in court.

You can also learn about the court process by reading the Small Claims Court: Guides to Procedures on the Ministry of the Attorney General website.

If you want to sue for more than $35,000, you must do that 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.

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