In only a few short months, your options when litigating a claim are going to dramatically change.
On January 1, 2010, the limit for claims that can be brought in the Small Claims Courts in Ontario will increase to $25,000.00. That is a huge increase from the current limit of $10,000.00.
Of course, you can always bring your action in Small Claims Court if the amount you are owed is over the limit, but you have to cap the claim at the court’s jurisdiction level ($10,000.00 now and soon $25,000.00).
The court rules regarding costs were previously amended, eliminating fixed amounts for costs. Now, the catch-all word used for awarding costs in the Small Claims Court Rules is “reasonable”. That wording will not likely change. What will change will be the maximum amount of costs that will be awarded to a successful part, which will now be capped at $3,750.00 (15% of the amount of the claim).
Companies and individuals can continue to act on their own behalf in the Small Claims Court without the need for legal representation. However, I do not recommend that you do this.
There are too many aspects of a lawsuit that self-represented parties just do not know. Do you know how to properly plead your case? Do you know the Rules of Evidence? Do you know how to summons a witness to trial? Do you know the difference between examining in chief versus cross-examination? Do you know how to introduce exhibits at trial?
Your lawyer will know how to do these things. This is where hiring counsel pays off, especially now that there is much more at stake in the Small Claims Court.
Inga B. Andriessen