In an effort to have claims resolved faster, easier and more affordably, the Attorney General is increasing the maximum claim values allowed before the Small Claims Court and under the Simplified Procedure.
With respect to the Simplified Procedure, the amendments have been created to entice litigants to actually use it. Routinely, cases are brought under the ordinary procedure for claims that are clearly within the jurisdiction of the Simplified Procedure and perhaps even the Small Claims Court.
The Small Claims Court currently presides over matters claiming less than $25,000. On January 1, 2020 the maximum claim limit will increase to $35,000. This is the first change since 2010 when the maximum claim value was increased from $10,000 to $25,000. In addition, the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to the Divisional Court will increase from $2,500 to $3,000. The Small Claims Court is designed to be accessible and allow individuals to be self-represented or represented by a paralegal or law student.
The changes coming to the Simplified Procedure are substantial. The current maximum value of a claim under the simplified rules is $100,000 but will increase to $200,000 on January 1, 2020. Perhaps more significantly, jury trials will no longer be permitted under the Simplified Procedure. Costs will also now be limited to $50,000 exclusive of HST (subject to adverse cost consequences) and disbursements will be limited to $25,000 exclusive of HST.
Rules of notes:
- The $200,000.00 applies to EACH Plaintiff
- Any claim may proceed under the Simplified Procedure as long as the Defendants do not object.
- Oral discovery is limited to three hours (previously two hours)
- All trials will now proceed by way of
- Fixed trial date
- Maximum of 5 days
- No direct examination (previously limited to 10 minutes)
- No limited on time for cross-examination or re-examination (previously limited to 50 minutes for cross)
Claims which were commenced in the Superior Court may be transferred to the Small Claims Court or move forward under the Simplified Procedure if they fall within the lower monetary thresholds. If you wish to go forward under the Simplified Procedure you can amend your claim to move forward under that system. You would need to serve and file Form 76A to do so. If a Jury notice was file prior to January 1, 2020, the matter will continue to be a jury trial.
The system is currently plagued by long delays. The changes to these rules are designed to alleviate these delays. The question is whether litigants and their counsel will choose to proceed under the Simplified Procedure. The increased limit, elimination of juries, limited oral discovery and set trial dates will certainly encourage utilizing the new system. That said, the fact that the only oral evidence permitted at trial will be cross-examinations and the hard limit on costs and disbursements may discourage some parties from utilizing the system.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.