Small Claims Court and COVID-19

2020: the year of living in strange times. 

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc around the world with people trying to adapt to social distancing, and business trying to keep carrying on. 

Small Claims Court is no different.

Small Claims Court offices throughout Ontario were initially operating on a skeleton crew, where they were only accepting emergency filings, but has since completely shut down all operations.

Well, what does that mean?  Court appearances have been suspended until further notice.  You cannot go to Court to issue Garnishments, Motions, or set your matter down for Trial.

The Small Claims Court have recently decided to starting hearing any issues relating outstanding warrants that were issued in relation to a Small Claims Court proceeding or time-sensitive cases that would result in immediate and serious financial hardship if a hearing were not scheduled by telephone and videoconference, and nothing more at this point.

We can still issue Plaintiff’s Claims online and serve them, but Defences will not be due until the suspension is lifted.  Defendants will have twenty to twenty-five days (depending on how service was effected upon them) after the Courts re-open to serve and file their Defence. 

When will the Courts open?  We have no idea.

What we do know is that the Small Claims Court is going to be quite hectic upon reopening with all the cancelled matters then being rescheduled and new matters being scheduled all at the same time.

Buckle up if you practice in Small Claims Court, its going to be very busy.

Thankfully, I have been using this time working from home to prepare myself for all my Trials, Motions and Settlement Conferences, so I have no surprises when the Courts reopen and I am ready to go!

Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal