Remembering Early Opinions of Small Claims Court
I remember hearing the term ‘Small Claims Court’ growing up, and always just sort of assumed I knew what it represented. I thought it was a Judge Judy type of scenario where people would go to bicker about minor, inconsequential claims/cases, that required the intervention of the legal system.
Because people can’t agree outside of the courts, it must be taken to Small Claims Court in Ontario.
As it turns out, my assumption wasn’t too far off the mark. I’ve recently updated my own personal knowledge base to include a more accurate understanding of what exactly goes on in the Small Claims Court circuit of Ontario, and how Paralegals play a vital role in keeping the action rolling.
Learn More About Ontario’s Small Claims Court
Why Does Small Claims Court Ontario Even Exist?
This not-so-miniature branch of the Superior Court of Justice serves as a necessity to keep the higher court clear for larger cases demanding the focused energy of all legal professionals involved; not just the lawyers, but the judges, courtroom staff, officers, administrators and more.
With the inclusion of Small Claims Court into the Ontario legal system, smaller, less severe and urgent matters can be attended to equally by qualified staff, but with the intention of expediting cases to settle debt and damage claims much more swiftly.
The additional factor that Paralegals are able to represent clients in these courtrooms is an advantage that benefits the bank accounts of both the defendant AND plaintiff. In other words, Small Claims Court is not just a more efficient option for smaller cases; it also presents an opportunity for drastic savings via the reduced rates that a licensed Paralegal may charge, versus a full fledged lawyer.
Did someone say savings? I’m listening!
Where Are These Small Claims Courts in Ontario?
Throughout the GTA, and the populated areas surrounding Lake Ontario and beyond, you’ll find a Small Claims Court of Ontario in just about every moderately sized city. In some cases, you may find multiple, and by golly, that’s pretty nifty of our fair Province.
In the Greater Toronto Area, locations include:
- Brampton, Ontario on Hurontario Street
- Markham, Ontario on Leslie Street
- Richmond Hill, Ontario on Major Mackenzie Dr
- Oshawa, Ontario on Bond Street
As well as multiple Superior Courts of Justice which may also dedicate time to matters of Small Claims. Don’t hold your breath, though!
Still Unclear? Let Me Explain How it Works
A good example of what happens in Ontario’s Small Claims Court would be a story involving a contractor and a homeowner. The court sees quite a lot of action when it comes to failed or incomplete renovations, or conversely the debt incurred by the homeowner who refuses to pay the bill after said renovation work has been completed.
I know it may sound hard to believe, but it happens. You are likely the type of person who either does the job as intended (the Contractor) or you are good Samaritan, and you pay your bills (the Homeowner)…
But not everyone is like you and I, and as a result, we prelude into the story of the hour:
Small Claims Court Story Regarding Home Renovations
The bathroom project was supposed to be completed in less than 2 weeks, with the contractor working evenings so that we could be home during the bulk of the work. The initial quote for the project was $7000 – $8000.
As two weeks came and went, the progress on the bathroom seemed to have stalled, and all of a sudden the workers were no longer coming each day. One day would be skipped, then multiple days. Until finally 4 days had passed without them showing up, only to arrive on the fifth day, for a total of an hour. Spending 1 hour on a bathroom renovation in what equates to a weeks worth of working time does not fit the original parameters of the agreement.
Further to the delayed timeline, the cost run up began to get out of hand. Our total running costs were now about to exceed $10,000. This is a 30 square foot bathroom, not a posh living room.
The Contractor Small Claim Evolves:
As the matter escalated from inconvenience to utter discontent, I had no recourse but to hire a Paralegal to sue the contractor in Small Claims Court. He simply wouldn’t answer the phone, and stopped showing up altogether.
The matter was brought before the Brampton, Ontario Small Claims Court on Hurontario street where the claim for damages, and contractor negligence was pegged at a value of $11,000. Which is the combined cost of the cost run up on the project (which wasn’t finished), plus some added clean up that had to be done.
Directions to the Brampton Court here: https://goo.gl/maps/pxG2gqyd1aT2
Why Hiring a Paralegal for Contractor Breach of Contract is Smart
I hired a Paralegal out of the Oshawa area, Renrow Paralegal, who happened to come highly recommended for such cases. Since we had records of most communications with the contractor, via email exchanges and text messages, it was a pretty easy case to settle.
The contracting company broke their promise, they failed to stick to budget, and they stopped communicating, when at first they were very responsive.
The GTA Paralegal was decisive and swift and assembling the facts, and closing the claim in only two court sessions. Very pleasing to see such efficiency from a fine Paralegal professional.
How Paralegals fit into the Small Claims Court System
As seen in the previous section, Paralegals offer extraordinary skill in their execution of mediation and processing of cases in Ontario’s Small Claims Courts. With the help of a Paralegal firm, you can receive settlement faster, you can recover damages quicker, and you can put the problematic issues of contractors, or tenants behind you sooner.
Because the court system of Ontario allows paralegals to operate in a similar fashion to a lawyer (See: from LSO: https://lso.ca/public-resources/your-law-ontario-law-simplified/paralegals ), it provides a less expensive way for citizens to have their case represented.
The Convenience of a Paralegal
This leads to the convenience factor of Paralegals. Hiring one can be not only less costly than a typical lawyer, it can also be a smoother process, and easier to contact and arrange meetings.
The prospect of lower cost legal representation combined with ease of communication is enough to get me into action in Small Claims Court, that’s for darn sure!