2. Get the defendant's response

I've filed a claim with the Small Claims Court online service. What happens next?
This question has an answer and 5 steps

2. Get the defendant's response

The defendant has 20 days to respond to your claim by filling out a Defence. They can:

  • agree to pay the full amount of your claim
  • agree to pay part of your claim, but explain why they don't think they have to pay the rest
  • explain why they think your claim is not correct
  • file a claim of their own against you or someone else

If the defendant agrees to pay all or part of your claim, they can suggest terms of payment. This means they can decide how quickly they will pay you the money they owe. If they suggest terms of payment you don't agree with, you have 20 days to ask the court for a terms of payment hearing.

Defendant files a defence

If the defendant disagrees with all or part of your claim, they must explain their reasons in their Defence.

The court will then send a Notice of Settlement Conference to both of you. The settlement conference is usually scheduled no later than 90 days after the defendant files their Defence.

A settlement conference is a meeting with a judge before trial to see if you and the defendant can resolve some or all of your issues without a trial.

Defendant files a counter-claim

If the defendant files a claim of their own against you, it's called a counter-claim or a Defendant's Claim. If you disagree with their claim, you must respond to their claim in writing, or they may get a judgment against you.

Small Claims Court forms are available at the courthouse and online.

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Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
Reviewed: April 1, 2019

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