No matter how careful we are, occasionally everyone gets taken by a deadbeat or stuck with shoddy merchandise or products. Invoices go unpaid. Collection letters and phone calls are a waste of time. Sometimes people just won't pay your bill. So what can you do?
How to take someone to small claims court: Sometimes, the only way to collect what is owing you is to sue. So when all else fails, don't just write off that debt, take them to small claims court. But first make sure they have assets or an income. There is no point suing if you cannot collect.
Small Claims Court, with a claims limit of up to $25,000, (limit varies by province) is an easily accessible self-help remedy designed to make it worthwhile for individuals and small business to pursue accounts without a lawyer. It is important that you do your homework and learn how best to use this valuable tool.
WHAT CAN I SUE FOR?
Usually you can sue for damages in auto accidents, property damage, some landlord tenant disputes, broken verbal or written contracts, bad cheques, unpaid wages, or the collection of personal debts. This is a partial list and rules vary by province.
THE SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE
All cases hold a settlement conference or a pre-trial hearing.
Both sides meet behind-closed-doors with a deputy-judge or a mediator.
The parties try to settle with the assistance of the judge who will hear both positions, give each side a reality check on the merits of their cases.
It is well worth settling to avoid a trial at a later date, Be realistic. Do not throw good money after bad.
HOW TO LOSE IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT:
Follow these simple instructions and you will get your head handed to you by an annoyed and impatient Small Claims Court judge.
Show up unwashed, unshaved and in dirty work clothes or showing too much cleavage looking like a bum or a harlot.
Do not have your important documents with you. Leave receipts and bills of sale or warranties and other essential original documents at home, and tell the judge you can get them later.
Interrupt and get into a shouting match with the other party when they are presenting their case to the court.
Don't bring your witnesses to court. Try and tell the judge what they told you.
Be unprepared. Stumble over your testimony and make up details on the spot which will impress the judge.
Text or make cell calls while you are waiting your hearing
Bring food or drink into the court room, or chew gum
To Sue or Not to Sue that is the question
STUDY JUDGE JUDY:
As repulsive as she is, Judge Judy provides a good example of what to expect in any Small Claims Court, although few judges are as sexist, obnoxious, arrogant or rude as that megalomaniac. Perhaps all that plastic surgery has affected her mind too. Watch several of her shows. Watch how the witnesses present their evidence and what happens to those who are not prepared or talk over the other party.