Area of Law: Small Claims Court
Answer # 544
What to do if you receive a Plaintiff's ClaimRegion: Ontario Answer # 544
If someone thinks you have violated their legal rights and caused them a loss, or believes that you owe them money, they can sue you. To start a lawsuit, the person suing you is required to prepare formal documents which are stamped by the court and delivered to you. If you receive a Plaintiff’s Claim from Small Claims Court, it means that someone is suing you for the reasons stated on the forms. The person or business suing you is called the plaintiff, and you are the defendant. How you respond to these forms will affect whether the person suing you can collect the money that they claim.
Defending a Plaintiff’s Claim
If you have received a Plaintiff’s Claim, read all the papers very carefully to find out what the lawsuit is about, and how long you have to respond. In most cases, you have 20 calendar days from the day you receive the Plaintiff’s Claim to file a Defence. You can find a Defence form at the Small Claims Court office or online. It is also important to understand that if you do not file a Defence on time, the plaintiff may prevent you from later filing a Defence (by noting you in default) and may win the case automatically.
Once you have reviewed the Plaintiff’s Claim, you have three options:
- You can disagree with everything in the claim and fight the lawsuit.
- You can agree with everything in the claim and propose a payment plan for all of the money that you owe; or
- You can agree with part and disagree with part of the claim and: propose a payment plan (called terms of payment) for the money you agree you owe, and fight the part you disagree with.
No matter what option you choose, filing a Defence will help you protect your rights in a Small Claims Court lawsuit.
In addition, if you believe that the plaintiff owes you money, or that someone else is responsible for all or part of the plaintiff’s loss, you can file a Defendant’s Claim within 20 days of filing your Defence.
If you are uncertain about how to file a Defence, or a Defendant’s Claim, the staff at the Small Claims Court may be able to help you.
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