Can I have my Small Claims Court trial in French?

3. Talk to a French lawyer or paralegal

You don't have to hire a lawyer or paralegal to help with your Small Claims Court case. But a lawyer or paralegal can help you understand the strength of your case, and your options.

Lawyers give legal advice. This means they explain what the law says and how it applies to your situation. Talk to a lawyer with experience in small claims matters. Some lawyers only deal with specific areas of law.

A paralegal is another type of legal professional. But they can only give legal advice in certain areas. In Ontario, paralegals can help with cases in Small Claims Court.

Lawyers and paralegals must tell you about your right to have bilingual proceedings. You decide what language you want your proceedings to be in, not the lawyer or paralegal.

If you choose French, your lawyer or paralegal must have enough knowledge of French to be able to:

  • speak and write the language in a way you both understand
  • do a good job representing you at court hearings

If they can't do these things, they should tell you they can't work for you. They should get your permission to refer you to someone else who can provide services in French.

When you meet with a lawyer, ask questions like:

  • Are you bilingual?
  • How many French-speaking clients do you have?
  • What experience do you have working with French-speaking people who live in Ontario?
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