I’m being sued by someone in Small Claims Court. What should I do?

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 someone is suing you for $35,000 or less, they can a claim against you in Small Claims Court. They must file their claim within 2 years of when they first learned about the problem.

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

You might be able to get 30 minutes of free legal advice from Pro Bono Ontario (PBO).

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

A is the person or company that is suing. If you are being sued, you're the .

Receiving a claim

If you're being sued in Small Claims Court, you will receive a Form 7A: Plaintiff’s Claim from the plaintiff. The form will tell you what they're suing you for, and why. When you receive this form, it's called being served.

Responding to a claim

Once you've been served, you can:

  • ignore the claim
  • reply to the claim
  • file a counterclaim

It's not a good idea to ignore a claim. If you ignore it, the court will assume you agree with what the plaintiff is asking for. The court can order you to pay money or give property to the plaintiff without hearing your side of the story.

Replying to the claim

If you want to reply to the claim, you must file and a Form 9A: Defence within 20 days of receiving the claim. In your Defence, you can tell your side of the story. You can agree with all, some, or none of the claims the plaintiff made against you.

Making a counterclaim

In addition to filing a Defence, you might want to make a new claim of your own. This is called a Form 10A: Defendant’s Claim.

You can make a Defendant's Claim if you think:

  • the plaintiff should have to pay you for something they did
  • you think someone else is responsible for the plaintiff's loss

For example, you may want to file a Defendant's Claim if:

  • the plaintiff hasn't paid the bill for a service you provided
  • the plaintiff is suing you for breaking something that you think another person broke

If you want to make a Defendant's Claim, you must file and serve it within 20 days of filing your Defence.

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