Area of Law: Small Claims Court
Answer # 565
Holding an Examination HearingRegion: Ontario Answer # 565
The Examination Hearing is a chance for a judgment creditor to find out about the debtor’s finances. Once you know how much money the debtor has, or where the debtor works, you can take steps to collect the debt that is owed to you. It is best to attend the Hearing prepared with questions written out ahead of time, so you will not forget to ask anything important.
Ontario’s Court Rules require a person who is a debtor (but not a corporation) to complete a Financial Information Form listing his or her income, expenses, debts and assets. The information must be served on the creditor before the Examination Hearing.
The debtor must also give a copy of the completed Financial Information Form to the judge at the Examination Hearing, and bring documents to the hearing that support the figures in the form.
Sometimes, it is necessary to include other people in the Hearing, if they have pertinent information. For example, you can request the presence of people, such as spouses or employers, because they may have information about matters, such as:
- why the debtor has not paid
- the debtor’s income and property
- debts owed to the debtor, or by the debtor, and so on.
What kinds of questions can a creditor ask?
At an Examination Hearing, you can ask the debtor, or any other person being examined, questions about the debtor’s financial situation, including:
- why the debtor has not paid you,
- how much the debtor earns,
- how much the debtor owes other people,
- how much other people owe the debtor and who these people are, and
- whether the debtor sold any property since the judgment was made.
At the end of the Examination, the judge will usually order the debtor to pay off the judgment either in one lump-sum payment or in several payments over time, depending on the financial circumstances of the debtor.
What if the debtor does not attend?
If the debtor fails to attend the Examination Hearing, the judge may order the person to attend before the court for a Contempt Hearing. If an order for a Contempt Hearing is made, the creditor shall be provided with a copy of the notice, giving the date, time and place of the hearing. The creditor is then responsible to serve the debtor, and any other person who failed to attend and is named in the notice, with the notice of the Contempt Hearing at least 7 days before the Hearing is to take place. The debtor will then have a chance to bring a motion to court and set aside the Contempt Hearing. If the person fails to attend the Contempt Hearing, and they have not brought a motion to set aside the order, the judge may order the person to be arrested.
Additional information about Examination Hearings can be obtained at the Small Claims Court, or from the Ministry of the Attorney General.
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