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How do you file and serve a Defence?

Region: Ontario Answer # 547

To fight a lawsuit in Small Claims Court, you must serve and file your Defence within 20 days of receiving the claim against you. This means you must give or send a copy of your completed Defence form to the Plaintiff before submitting it to the Small Claims Court office and paying the filing fee. In addition to your Defence form, you will also need to complete an Affidavit of Service form to prove that you have provided a copy of your Defence to the plaintiff.

Serving an individual

If the plaintiff is an individual, the Defence can be served personally, by you or someone acting on your behalf (such as a process server, or friend) by handing it to the plaintiff. It is important that whoever is serving the document is certain that the person they are giving it to is, in fact, the plaintiff. If the Defence cannot be served personally, you may serve it by mail, courier or fax. If the individual is represented by a lawyer or paralegal, then the Defence can be given to the legal representative, or one of their staff.

Serving a business

If you want to deliver your Defence personally, to a plaintiff which is a business:

  • if it is a sole proprietorship, you can give it to the sole proprietor,
  • if it is a partnership, you can leave it with any of the partners,
  • if it is a corporation, you can give it to an officer, director, or any other person authorized to act on behalf of the corporation.

In addition, for any of the forms of business, you can leave the Defence with a person at the place of business who appears to be in control or management of the place of business.

If the Defence is not served personally, you may serve it by mail, courier, or fax to the head office, or principal place of business, or to the corporation’s attorney for service. If the business is represented by a lawyer or paralegal, then the Defence can be given to the legal representative, or one of their staff.

Affidavit of Service

Once the Defence has been served, you will need to file an Affidavit of Service with the court. This form is available from the Small Claims Court office and online. In it you will give information about how and when the Defence was served. If you did not serve the Defence yourself, the person who did must sign this document in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits.


Settlement Conference

Once the Defence has been filed, the Small Claims Court office will automatically schedule a settlement conference. The settlement conference is held before a lawsuit goes to trial. Everyone involved in the lawsuit will receive a special form, by mail, called a Notice of Settlement Conference. You should read the Notice carefully. It will tell you the date, time and location of the conference. A trial date will only be set if the parties cannot reach an agreement after having attended the conference.

If you want to sue the plaintiff for something, or if you want to bring another person into the lawsuit, you should also file a Defendant’s Claim at the same time as you file the Defence. The Defendant’s Claim is a separate form.

For more information about Small Claims Court in Ontario, visit the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Get help

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 defending a lawsuit, or any Small Claims Court matter, contact our preferred experts, George Brown Professional Corporation .

To hire a process server to serve a Defence or a Defendant’s Claim, or other legal document, file court documents, or conduct legal searches, contact our preferred experts:

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