This step-by-step process for small claims will guide you from start to finish in your small claims matter. If you have already filed a Plaintiff’s Claim, you may jump to the next step by clicking on the applicable phase in the table of content below.
Are you claiming $35,000 or less? If Yes, you can file a plaintiff’s claim. If you answered No, the Superior Court of Justice is where you need to go.
Is the incident exactly or less than two years from where you knew about it? If Yes, you can file a plaintiff’s claim. If No, you can’t file.
If you think you need the help of a Toronto Paralegal rather than go through the step yourself, use the chat box below.
Link to all the small claims court documents [ALL SMALL CLAIMS FORMS]:
Step-by-Step Process For Small Claims
Step 1: File a Plaintiff Claim
File a Plaintiff’s claim along with supporting documents online or in person at any of the Ontario courthouses close to the “cause of action” (where the event happened or the city where the person or business you are suing (or one or more of the defendants) resides or operates their business.
Need to know how to fill out a plaintiff’s claim? Click on this link.
How much does it cost to file a plaintiff’s claim? Visit the following link to see the fee.
Step 2: Serve Your Claim
After filing your plaintiff’s claim and supporting documents with the court, and have been issued a stamped and dated electronic copy of your claim.
Your next step is to serve (you, a friend, a family member or a process server can serve, give or send the claim to the party or parties you are suing. You have (6)six months from the time you filed the claim to serve the defendant. See the rules of small service claims here.
Step 3: File Your Proof
Whoever serves the claim must complete an affidavit of service (form 8A) and file it with the court. You can find Form 8A and all the small claims court documents (forms) in the table above.
Step 4: Wait for the defendant to respond
Suppose the defendant doesn’t file a Defence within 20 days after you have served them with the claim. You can file a Request to Clerk to note the defendant in default.
Suppose the defendant disputes the claim and files a Defence Defence[Form 9A] within 20 days, and neither party accepts or makes a settlement offer. In that case, the court clerk will set a date for a settlement conference, which would hold 90 days after filing the first Defence.
Notice of the settlement conference and a blank list of proposed witnesses [FORM 13A] will be sent to the plaintiff and defendant. The parties are expected to serve the FORM 13A at least 14 days before the settlement conference date.
At any point, the plaintiff and defendant can agree to settle the matter before the judge discards the case. If they agree, they must write it and sign it in the presence of witnesses. They can also use the Terms of Settlement [FORM 14D] to indicate a settlement agreement and file it with the court.
An Offer to Settle [FORM 14A] can be completed by either party that wants to settle, and Acceptance of Offer to Settle [FORM 14B] can be completed to accept the offer.
Read more about offer to settle, acceptance of offer to settle, and the related consequences.
Step 5: Attend the Settlement Conference
The plaintiff, defendant, judge, or referee must attend the settlement conference. The purpose of the settlement conference is to encourage settlement between the parties.
Suppose the parties want a final judgment at the settlement conference. In that case, they are required to file a signed Consent [Form 13B] (before or during the settlement conference) which would empower the judge to make a final judgement at the settlement conference.
While at the settlement conference, If the parties agree to settle in the settlement conference, the judge will make an order to close the case.
However, suppose the parties do not agree at the settlement conference. In that case, an Endorsement Record (Order of the Court) will be given to the parties after the settlement conference.
Furthermore, the court clerk will send the parties a Notice to Set Action Down for Trial. The notice states that a trial date must be requested and paid by one of the parties for setting the action down for trial.
Suppose the parties fail to set the action down for trial, the court clerk will make an order to dismiss the claim on the grounds of delay.
Learn more about what to expect or bring to a settlement conference.
Step 6: Attend Trial
Suppose both parties do not reach an agreement in the settlement conference, the matter will go to trial. However, both parties can still complete and file the Terms of Settlement [FORM 14D] before the trial date. The court clerk will send both parties a notice of the trial date.
Failure to attend the trial could result in the claim getting dismissed or judgment granted against you. However, you may file a motion to adjourn if you have a valid reason why you are unable to attend the trial.
If your motion is approved, a new trial date will be set, and a notice to that effect will be sent to the parties.
Step 7: Judgement
After you have made your submissions in court and the witnesses have given their testimonies, the judge shall decide on the day of the trial or later. The parties will receive a copy of the judge’s decision and an endorsement record when the judge makes a decision.
Suppose the judge decides against a party that didn’t attend the trial. The affected party can bring a motion to set aside or vary the judgment obtained against them within 30 days of becoming aware of the decision.
Please note that a judge’s decision is an order and NOT a guarantee of payment.
Step 8: Appeal
Step 9: Enforcing Judgement
If the judgment is granted in your favor and you want to enforce the order (i.e., collect the amount owed or property from the debtor), there are a number of ways to go about it. For example, you enforce an order for payment of money through the following means:
Examination Hearing – The Court makes an order for payment (debtor pays into court.)
If debtor defaults
- Serve notice of default payment : Form 20L on the debtor
- File Affidavit of default payment : Form 20M in court
- Garnishment of Wages or Bank Accounts
- Writ of Seizure & Sale of Personal Property
- Writ of Seizure and Sale of Land
- Writ of Delivery
Click here for more information about enforcing a judgment.
I hope you found this step-by-step process for small claims beneficial. If yes, you may buy us a coffee by clicking on the buy me a coffee button located on the sidebar of this page. Hire Paralegal if you need help with your small claims action.
Good luck with your case!
Visual Presentation of Step-by-Step Process For Small Claims In Ontario