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Filing a plaintiff’s claim

Claims for $10,000 to $35,000, depending on the province, are brought to small claims court. Filing a plaintiff’s claim commences claims in small claims court.

How to file

A hard copy of a completed plaintiff’s claim may be submitted to the small claims court office. Only some plaintiff’s claims can be filed online. It is preferable to submit the claim to the court in person rather than by mail. The clerk may be able to advise you immediately if the claim is incomplete. It will be faster to complete the claim if you learn that information from the clerk directly rather than exchanging correspondence by mail.

Hard copies of plaintiff’s claims must be filed in person or by mail. A filed claim should be accompanied by all supporting documents. One original and two copies of the claim and every included document must be filed. The court clerk will stamp and keep the original claim and one set of the documents. Two stamped copies will be returned to you. You are responsible for serving one of the stamped copies on the defendant. The other stamped copy is for your records.

The court clerk will write a claim number onto each copy of the plaintiff’s claim. Whenever you file, serve or send a document in your case, write that claim number in the upper right hand corner of the document.

When filing a plaintiff’s claim, you are required to pay a filing fee. The current fee for filing a plaintiff’s claim in small claims court is $95 (there will be additional fees at future stages in the action.) The filing fee may be paid by cash, money order, or certified cheque. Cheques are to be made payable to the minister of finance.

Be aware that there are time limits for filing any legal action, called limitation periods. Any questions you have about what time limit applies should be directed to a lawyer.

Where to file

There are small claims court offices in municipalities throughout Canada. If your action goes to trial, the trial will be held in the place where the plaintiff’s claim is filed. It is important to file your plaintiff’s claim in the appropriate office. How do you determine the appropriate location? You can file your claim in the court office that satisfies any of the following criteria:

  • In the territorial division where the event took place or problem occurred that is causing you to file the plaintiff’s claim;
  • In the territorial division where the defendant lives or carries on business; or
  • At the court location nearest to the place where the defendant lives or carries on business.

It may not possible to file your claim in the location that satisfies those criteria. In that case, you may file your claim in the location you choose. You must also file an affidavit for jurisdiction along with the claim. The affidavit must state why you believe that trial of your claim should be heard in that location.

The importance and potential complexity of a legal claim is not determined by its size alone. If you have any questions about the procedure for or merits of a Small claims court claim, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer with litigation experience.

Read more:

Attorney General of Ontario

Statement of Claim definition