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Ontario|Small Claims Court
Starting the Lawsuit
541 Starting a lawsuit: Statement of Claim If someone has violated your legal rights and has caused you to suffer a loss, you may want to start a lawsuit if you are unable to resolve the problem by other methods. To start a lawsuit in Small Claims Court, you must fill out a special form called a Statement of Claim. The Statement of Claim form is available at the Small Claims Court in your area. If you already have a Statement of Claim form, you may want to have it with you while you consider the following information. There are four sections of the Statement of Claim that must be completed.
- Plaintiff and defendant informationThe first section identifies who is involved in the lawsuit. Be sure to fill in all the information requested on the form, including the proper legal name and address of the defendant. If you are suing more than one defendant, you must include the name, address and other required information on the form for each defendant you are suing.
- Amount of claimThe second section says "To the defendant: the plaintiff claims from you". Then there is a dollar sign followed by a blank space. In the blank space, put the amount of money you are suing for. As of April 2001, the amount can be up to $10,000. The pre-printed form already says that you will be asking for costs, which are the expenses that you paid to bring your case to court. Costs include things such as the fee for filing the Statement of Claim, photocopying charges, postage, and may include lawyers' fees. The Judge may order the defendant to pay you some or all of these costs if you win your case.
- Type of claimThe third section of the form says "Type of Claim". This is where you will need to check-off the box that best describes your situation, such as "Contract" or "Damage to Property". If the boxes don't fit your situation, check-off the box marked "Other" and write what your matter is about in the blank space. For example, if you are suing because of an assault, you should check-off "Other" on the form and write in the word "Assault".
- Facts of your caseThe fourth part of the Statement of Claim is the section that says "Reasons for Claim and Details". On the blank lines, you will need to write all the important facts of your case and a description of what you are claiming. It is best if you write a separate, short paragraph for each thing you are claiming. You should number your paragraphs and list all the facts in the order that they happened. You should not include arguments or opinions. Always list the date when something happened, and the names of the people involved. When referring to yourself, you should write "the plaintiff". When referring to the person you are suing, you should write "the defendant".
Be brief in writing the facts of your case, and put in only what is necessary for the defendant and the judge to know what your case is about and why you are claiming the amount you have written on the form. If you need more space than is provided on the form, you may attach extra sheets of paper. Make sure the writing is clear and readable.
If you are relying on a contract, a receipt, or a letter, be sure to attach a copy of the document to your claim. If you do not have a copy of the document, you must write the reason you do not have the document in the space at the bottom of the form. For example, if a store refused to give you back your receipt, you should write that in as the reason you do not have the receipt.
- Pre-judgment interestIn your Statement of Claim, you should ask for pre-judgment interest, which is interest on the amount of money you claim in the lawsuit. Pre-judgment interest is calculated from the day the problem occurred until the day the judge decides the outcome of the case. To be awarded pre-judgment interest, you can include it in your details of the claim by writing "the plaintiff claims pre-judgment interest". The judge will make the decision.
The interest rate for pre-judgment interest will usually be the rate used by the courts at the time of the lawsuit, unless another rate has already been agreed upon by you and the defendant.
The staff at the Small Claims Court office can provide you with printed instructions on how to complete the Statement of Claim. If you need legal assistance with your case and your Statement of Claim, you should contact a lawyer.