Suing a Contractor is often Complicated

It is that that time of the year when our paralegal office gets calls from home owners looking to sue contractors who have done work around their home. The small claims court Ontario deals with many of these types of cases. Often these cases start out easy, and become complicated before reaching trial.

There are many variations to this type of claim. Sometimes there is a written contract setting out exactly what the contractor is to do, and how they are to be paid. Too often though, there is poorly written contract or no contract at all. Sometimes there are just e-mail exchanges giving a vague idea what the contractor is hired to do.

If you want the contractor to do things that were not part of the original signed contract, be sure to sign “add on agreements,” which clearly state what the extra work to be done is and how much it will cost.

Contractors, unlike paralegals and lawyers, don’t have a tough regulator like the Law Society of Ontario. Ontario paralegals are required us to put all client money in a trust account until work is completed and an invoice issued and delivered.

Disputes that I see in the Toronto small claims court, Richmond Hill small claims court, Brampton small claims courts court, and others include the contractor just abandoning the job part way through. This is especially the case when the contractor is paid a large portion of the job upfront.

Did the contract do the work negligently? Do you need another contractor to redo the work? Before you hire another contractor to redo work, obtain legal advice immediately. You may need an independent expert’s report. Paying another contractor to fix the negligent work your original contractor may forever destroy evidence necessary to properly prove your case in court.

At trial you need an experienced paralegal ontario. Some of the issues I see at trials involving a contractor include: whether the proper party or parties have been to sued, disputes about the work the contractor was hired to do, what was the contract price?, the amount paid, what work was done and what was not done, whether certain work was done negligently, the cost to redo work, were there ad ons necessary or agreed to,  a Defendant’s Claim (if any) and minimizing damages.

We have been representing home owners in small claims court since 1996. Contact Marshall Yarmus of Civil Litigations at 416-229-1479 or visit our website at


How to evict a tenant in Ontario for “Own Use”

In Ontario, an N12 form is given to a tenant when the landlord or the landlord’s spouse or child requires the rental unit for their own full time residence for at least one year.

The form is also used when a purchaser or the purchaser’s immediate family member requires the rental unit for their own use. This blog focuses on a landlord requiring the unit for their own use. Although some requirements are the same for a purchasers own use application, some are not.

The termination date on the N12 must be at least 60 days after the tenant is served. The termination date set out in the notice must be the last date of the rental period or the last date of a lease term. Self-represented landlords often make a mistake when choosing the date. This is especially so when rent is not payable on the first of the month.

Once the N12 is served the landlord can immediately apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order. An L2 application is used.

These “own use” applications are often hotly contested. This can be the start of a long heated battle.

It is in both the landlord’s and tenant’s best interest to hire an experienced licensed paralegal ontario to represent them.

Do not ask landlord tenant board ontario staff for legal advice. They are trained in forms and procedures. They are not trained in the law.

The person who plans to move in must swear out an affidavit stating that they, “in good faith” intend to reside in the apartment for at least a year. Self-represented landlords often fill out the affidavit incorrectly.

The landlord must pay the tenant the equivalent of one months’ rent as compensation for bringing this application.  This must be paid before the termination date set out in the N12 notice. The landlord must prove this money was paid.

Should the landlord or the family member who plans to move in testify at the hearing? Can an eviction be delayed or denied even if the landlord proves they “in good faith” require the apartment for their own use? Is it now easier for a former tenant to sue their former landlord if they moved out due to receiving an N12 notice which was given in bad faith?

You need an expert to represent and guide you through the process. At Civil Litigations we are experts who have been in business since 1996. Call us at 416-229-1479 or use the appointment tab on our website, to book a 30 minute free consultation

What does it take to win at a small claims court trial?

What does it take to win at a small claims court trial?

As someone who has represented at probably more than a thousand small claims trials at the Toronto Small Claims Court and other small claims court ontario, I can tell you preparation is the most important thing.

Other important aspects are making sure you have all the witnesses you need, and documents necessary to prove your case. Make sure the evidence comes out through your witnesses in a logical way that the judge can follow.

Preparation starts with the writing of the Plaintiff’s Claim or Defence. You will be limited to the facts you have plead in these documents.

The most important hearing to get ready for trial is the settlement conference. You read that correctly. Settlement Conference is the most important hearing to obtain necessary orders to get ready for trial, to obtain information from the opposing side that will assist you in trial preparation.

You cannot tell the trial judge what was said at settlement conference. That does not stop you from using information you heard to help you prepare for trial.

You also need to know and be able to present to the judge what the law is. I know it is small claims court and you think the judge knows the law. You are thinking I don’t need to present statute or case law to the judge.

Maybe your case involves an area of the law the judge is very familiar with. Then again, maybe the judge isn’t familiar with the law regarding your case. The judge may not be aware of case law that helps your case. Presenting law to the judge during closing submissions can only help your case.

What else do you need to know? Some knowledge of evidence law is helpful. This is especially so if expert reports or expert witnesses are to be presented to the court. Knowledge of the small claims court rules also helps.

You will need to prepare for asking your witnesses questions. These questions cannot be leading.

You will need to prepare to ask the opposing witnesses questions. This is called cross-examination. Many cases are won or lost on the strength and experience of the person asking the cross-examination questions.

If you do not have the time, patience, or knowledge to prepare for trial I urge you to hire a paralegal ontario or a lawyer.

Our paralegal firm, Civil Litigations has 22 years experience we can help you. Our phone number is 416-229-1479. Our website is

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.