There are different levels of Court in Canada.
The Government of New Brunswick’s webpage nicely summarizes the role of our Small Claims Court:
Matters will be heard in the Small Claims Court for actions for debt, damages and/or the return of possession of personal property for an amount up to $20,000. Claims will be heard by an adjudicator (an experienced lawyer) and the process will be somewhat less formal than regular court processes.
Matters over which the Small Claims Court does not have jurisdiction include:
Actions involving title to, or interest in, land;
Actions concerning entitlement of a person under a will or on an intestacy; and
An action for libel, slander, breach of promise of marriage, malicious arrest, malicious prosecution or false imprisonment.
With a present claim limit of $12,500.00 and a less formal setting, it is common for Claimants, Defendants, and Third Parties to represent themselves. They may obtain legal help with drafting and filing the necessary forms, as well as preparing for the hearing.
Some prefer to leave the work entirely to their lawyer and/or an articling student who will put together the necessary forms and prepare the case, then continue on to represent them at the hearing.
Parties will have to abide by the necessary timelines. Generally, Claimants have 2 years from occurrence of the debt, damages, or loss of personal property to file their claim.
Any Defendant or Third Party has 30 days to respond after receiving the Claim. If either doesn’t respond, the Clerk may enter a judgment against him or her at the request of the Claimant.
At the hearing, which will normally last for no more than 2 and a half hours, the Claimant will be first to speak, introduce any exhibits, and present any witnesses. They will be followed by the Defendant and if necessary, any Third Parties.
Once all arguments have been made, the adjudicator has the option to immediately advise the parties of his or her decision, or to wait and provide it later in a written decision. The written decision must be given to all parties within 6 months of the hearing date.
If you’re interested in a more detailed understanding of New Brunswick’s Small Claims Court, we recommend you check out the PLEIS (Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick) webpage which provides a PDF guide for Claimants, Defendants and Third Parties. This can be found here.
If you would like to learn more about how McMath Law can assist you with a Small Claims Court matter, please contact us.
Remy Rosinski, Student-at-law