2. Get your evidence

What happens at my Small Claims Court trial?
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2. Get your evidence

You need to prepare for your trial by getting your evidence together. Your evidence includes documents and witnesses. The evidence must relate to the facts that you need to prove your claim.

Documents

Documents used as evidence must be originals and relevant to your case. For example:

  • business records
  • contracts between you and the defendant
  • receipts for money you spent because of what the defendant did
  • reports from experts like building inspectors or repair companies
  • photographs
  • text messages
  • emails

These documents must be served on the defendant at least 30 days before your trial. You may have already served most of this material before your settlement conference.

The Guide to Serving Documents explains the rules that must be followed. If you don't follow the rules, the judge will likely refuse to accept that evidence.

You should bring the original documents and at least three copies of each document to the trial. The originals are used as exhibits. The copies are for the yourself, the judge, and the defendant.

Witnesses

Only use witnesses who:

  • have important information that will help the judge decide your case
  • can give evidence that supports the decision you want the judge to make
  • have important information that goes against the defendant's case

A witness can only give evidence about what they know, not what other people have told them. When a witness testifies about what other people have told them, this is called hearsay.

Ask your witnesses to come to court. If they don't agree or if you're not sure they will come, you call fill out a Summons to Witness form and file it with the court for a fee. A summons is a document that tells a witness that they must come to the hearing.

The summons must be served personally on the witness at least 10 days before your trial date with attendance money. Attendance money includes a witness fee and travel expenses.

Interpreters

The court provides interpreters for parties and witnesses who speak English and French. Let the court know if you need an interpreter well before your trial date.

You May Also Need

Ministry of the Attorney General
Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
Reviewed: December 10, 2018

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