Area of Law: Small Claims Court
Answer Number: 541
Plaintiff's ClaimRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 541
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 Plaintiff’s Claim, formerly known as a Statement of Claim. The Plaintiff’s Claim form is available online or at the Small Claims Court in your area. There are three sections of the Plaintiff’s Claim that must be completed.
Plaintiff and defendant information
The first section identifies who is involved in the lawsuit. Be sure to fill in all the information requested on the form. It is important to use the proper legal names of both the plaintiff and the defendant. If you don’t, you might not be able to proceed with your case or collect a judgment if it is awarded to you. If you are suing more than one defendant, or there is more than one plaintiff, you must complete an Additional Parties form and put it behind page one of your Plaintiff’s Claim form.
Reasons for claim
The second section requires you to complete the reasons for your claim, including the amount claimed. The maximum amount can be up to $25,000. You can also ask 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 Plaintiff’s Claim, photocopying charges, postage, and may include fees for legal representation. If you win your case, the judge may order the defendant to pay you some or all these costs up to a value of 15% of your claim.
On the form, you are asked to explain what happened, where it happened, and when it happened. 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. Check the box “Additional pages are attached because more room was needed.” 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 state that fact as the reason you do not have it.
In the third section of the Plaintiff’s Claim, it allows you to claim for pre-judgment interest. Pre-judgment interest is calculated from the day the problem occurred until the day the judge decides the outcome of the case. 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.
More information about Small Claims Court in Ontario can be found from the Ministry of the Attorney General.
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For legal advice and assistance with starting a Small Claims Court lawsuit, contact our preferred Small Claims litigation paralegals, Carr Law.
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