Understanding Small Claims Court
Small claims court is used to settle cases worth $35,000 or less (not including interest or expenses that the claimant is entitled to). Because of the relatively low financial stakes of the cases, small claims court procedures are less complicated than those of the supreme court. If you are considering taking someone to small claims court, here is a basic breakdown of what you need to know.
The Small Claims Court Process
1. Notice of Claim
The creditor must file a notice of claim by submitting a form through the provincial small claims court registry and paying a filing fee.
2. Time for Response
The debtor is given a reasonable amount of time to respond to the claim and may choose to pay it off at this time or to send a reply outlining why they disagree with the claim. If the debtor does not respond at all, then an order of payment will be issued against the debtor by default.
3. Settlement Conference
The creditor and debtor will both receive a mailed notice summoning them to a settlement conference, where a judge attempts to facilitate an agreement between the debtor and the creditor.
If the case goes to trial, the debtor and creditor will be given the chance to make their respective cases and if the judge rules that the debt is legitimate, they will issue a court order stating that the debtor must pay off the money owed.
If someone owes you money and is refusing to pay, it can be difficult to know what the best next step should be. Before you take any action against the debtor, you must allow them reasonable time for payment. This time runs from the date of the payment demand, not the initial loan or service, and is determined on a case-by-case basis.
If the debtor refuses to pay after a reasonable amount of time, you have a number of options as a creditor. Here are the most commonly used ways to get results.
For help with debtors, speak to a lawyer today: 604-373-9895
Following Up After Acquiring a Judgement
The first step in getting what is owed to you is going to trial and getting a judgement stating that the person who owes you money must pay it off, as outlined above. Once a judge has ordered that your debtor must pay you and your order has been filed, you may need to follow up through various avenues in order to actually get your money. It is not the court’s responsibility to collect the money on your behalf, but sending a copy of the court order to your debtor may be enough to incentivize them to pay right away.
Common Creditor Remedies
If your debtor still fails to pay, here are the most effective ways to go about acquiring the money owed to you after a judgement has been acquired and followed up on.
- Registration Against Land
- Payment Hearing
- Default Hearing
- Garnishing Wages or Bank Accounts
- Seizure and Sale of Goods by the Court Bailiff
If you are a creditor having trouble with debtors defaulting on payments, the lawyers at Hoogbruin and Company can help. Get in touch for your free consultation with a lawyer to determine the best course of action for your unique situation.