Going to small claims court is a good way to resolve a dispute with someone if you’re unable to amicably, with Ontario’s small claims court able to award damages up to $35,000 or order the return of property worth $35,000 or less. With less formal procedural rules, quick and efficient resolution, and the ability to represent yourself makes small claims court an attractive option. However, here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid making mistakes while self-representing yourself.
Having No Standing
Before starting any legal action, it’s essential to make sure you have actual standing and can prove to the court a solid connection to the case and the alleged harm. If you don’t properly name the plaintiff, the defendant may turn around and seek costs against a party who uselessly named a plaintiff.
The Wrong Defendant
Make sure you have the right defendant! If you’re conducting an action against a corporation, they may be operating under a business name rather than its actual one; it’s possible that you may need a business report to get the right name. Without getting the correct name, this could result in the case being thrown out.
Additionally, directors and officers are separate from their actual corporations. If they’re at fault, you should put both their name and the corporation’s name on the claim. However, don’t add directors and officers as defendants for no reason.
Evidence is essential to any effective lawsuit. Without any, your case is non-existent. As the plaintiff, it’s your responsibility to provide the court with all relevant evidence necessary to the case and your claim. In this case, quality trumps quantity; the more solid your evidence, the better your case.
If you’re the defendant, you should be prepared to rebut any of the plaintiff’s arguments even if the burden of proof is no longer on you.
No Independent Advice
Representing yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but things can go wrong fast if you don’t know what you’re doing or talking about. That’s why it’s highly recommended to get legal advice from a lawyer regardless of the case’s complexity or claim amount. They can help you better understand the small claims court process and make sure you’re doing everything right while avoiding any potential pitfalls.
At Ontario Legal Pool, we strive every day to put our best foot forward so that we can put our clients first. We have a passion for law and advocating for your rights. Ontario Legal Pool is a result-driven paralegal practice that provides services across Ontario; from small claims court to commercial transactions, we’ll help you with any and all legal needs. Find out more and book your consultation today at our website or contact us for more information at 647-795-8216 or [email protected].