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Determining who to sue in Small Claims Court

Region: Ontario Answer # 539

By correctly naming all the defendants you are suing, it will be easier to win the lawsuit and collect any money which the court may order the defendants to pay you. In a lawsuit, a defendant can be either a person, business, organization, association, or other type of legal entity responsible for your loss.

 

Finding the defendant’s proper name

Before you start a lawsuit, you will need to find out the proper legal name of the defendant. Who you name as a defendant will depend on whether your situation involves a person or a business.

Individual defendant

If you are going to sue a person, it is necessary to find out his or her legal name. A person’s legal name might appear on a lease, cheque, or other official document. If a defendant is known by more than one name, you should list all of them. For example, you may refer to someone as “Robert Smith, also known as Bob Smith.”

Suing a business

If you are going to sue a business, the name you use for the defendant will depend on what type of business it is. There are three types of business entities: corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships.

Corporate defendant

If the defendant is a corporation, you should use its full legal name, which will probably end with the word corporation, incorporated, limited or one of their abbreviations. The full business name usually appears on the business’ letterhead, cheques, business cards, or contracts. If you are unsure about the full legal name of the business or whether it is a corporation, you can do a corporate search through the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

Partnership defendant

If you want to sue a partnership or one of the partners in a partnership, you should list the partnership as the defendant, rather than the name of any individual partner. Even though you are not required to list individual partners as defendants, if you are suing a partnership but want to be able to collect money from one of the partners personally, you may want to name that partner as a defendant in the Plaintiff’s Claim and deliver a copy to that partner as well.

Sole proprietorship defendant

If the business you are suing is not a corporation or a partnership, and it is operated by one individual, it is called a sole proprietorship.

For a sole proprietorship, you can check to see whether the business name is registered with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. If the business name is registered, you can use the name of the business as the defendant in your lawsuit.

If the business name is not registered, you should use the name of the owner of the business as the defendant. You may wish to include both. For example, you may sue “John Smith, carrying on business as John’s Cleaning Service.”

Suing an organization or other type of legal entity

Your case may involve a different type of entity, such as a sports club or charitable organization. As with any other lawsuit, it is imperative that you determine who the defendant is and obtain the correct legal name. In such cases, the organization can take several legal forms, such as a non-profit corporation or an unincorporated association.

To obtain more information about searching for a business name, visit ServiceOntario. For more information about Small Claims Court in Ontario, visit the Ministry of the Attorney General.

If you are having financial difficulties and want to clear your debt and repair your credit, you can get help. For easy-to-understand debt solutions on your terms, contact our preferred experts 4Pillars and rebuild your financial future. With 60 locations across Canada, they will help you design a debt repayment plan and guide you with compassionate advice. No judgment. For help, visit 4Pillars or call toll-free 1-844-888-0442 .

If you are having legal difficulties because of a past criminal record and wish to erase your record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

For legal advice and assistance with a Small Claims Court matter, contact our preferred Small Claims Court paralegals, George Brown Professional Corporation .


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