Be Prepared for the Unexpected Before the Small Claims Court

There are many types of witnesses. At one recent trial I had before the Toronto Small Claims Court I had the opposing paralegal seek to have a witness declared as “an expert.” In another case before the small claims court Ontario I had the opposing representative seek to declare a witness as a “hostile witness” or “an adverse witness.”

In both cases I was given no advance notice that these requests would be made. If you were self-represented, would know how to respond? Would you have consented or opposed these requests?

This week I was retained shortly after settlement conference by a party who had learned at the settlement conference hearing that a Defendant’s Claim had been issued against them. They had already been noted in default. This means that they are prevented from filing a defence without a judge’s order or the consent of the opposing side. They hired me to take the necessary steps to set aside the noting in default and allow them to file a Defence.

“Did you ask the judge at the settlement conference for an order allowing you to file a late defence?” I asked the client. The client responded by saying “The judge never said I could do that.”

It is not the judge’s job to give you legal advice or explain the Small Claims Court Rules. Had this client known a settlement conference judge has the power to make a variety of orders they could have saved money.

My point today is that any number of things can happen during Small Claims Court proceedings that you will not expect and will probably not know how best to respond to protect your interests.

You need an experienced licensed paralegal ontario representing you at all stages of an case; someone with a solid knowledge of the Small Claims Court Rules, Courts of Justice Act and the rules of evidence. We can help you.