Collection Litigation Using the Milton Court House

A large part of our firm’s litigation work is collecting debts owed to our clients.  For over 28 years our goal has been to obtain a judgment for those clients as quickly as possible, to prevent assets from being dissipated by debtors, and to do so in a cost-effective manner.

In the 1990s, the Toronto Courts were swamped, and obtaining a default Judgment would take 6 months, compared to less busy jurisdictions where it could be done within 40 days after serving the claim.

Given this, we kept an eye out for jurisdictions where we could obtain Judgments quickly and this led us to Milton, Ontario.   This didn’t just lead our firm there, it led most firms practicing collection litigation there.

Until the pandemic, Milton was the quickest jurisdiction in the province to obtain Judgment.  Not only was it speedy, the Judges there are thoughtful, professional, and excellent to appear in front of.  Precedent setting decisions in commercial litigation have frequently come out of the Milton Court House due to all of the above factors.

But now, that time is done.  Not only has the pandemic changed scheduling, the Milton Court House is physically closed for Mould Remediation.  It’s operating out of a hotel in Burlington and many people think the projected March 2022 return date is a “stretch goal” at best.

Toronto has become the efficiency capital of Ontario again.  The CPC Court ensures contested motions can be heard within 100 days of scheduling them: that’s far sooner than any long motion dates in Milton.

A practice never used by our firm, but apparently used by others was also recently halted in Milton and likely throughout the province.  This is the practice of starting matters under $35,000.00 in Superior Court instead of Small Claims Court. 

The Honourable Justice Kurz in Canaccede v. Schulz-Hallihan, [2021] ONSC 4851 (CanLII) ruled that matters that fall within the Small Claims limit must be started there and transferred the matters to the Small Claims Courts where the debtors resided or carried on business.

The practical reality of that decision is these claims have all gone to rot.  Small Claims has been the slowest Court to move in the pandemic.  There are currently zero trials being scheduled.  Motions are slow and Justice is beyond delayed in that Court, it is missing.

That, however, is not a reason to start matters in Superior Court, or is it?  I don’t’ know if Canaccede will be appealed.  If it is, the pandemic timing of the Small Claims in Ontario may finally get the scrutiny it needs.

In the meantime, my fellow collection litigators, it’s time to find a new Court because Milton is not the advantage it used to be.

Inga B. Andriessen, JD