The Small Claims Court Ontario Overview
The Small Claims Court Ontario originates back to the creation of government in Ontario, which was called the Court of Requests. This court was established by the first Parliament of Upper Canada which would deal with Small Claims. This court was “to continue to the convenience of the inhabitants of the Province in an easy and speedy method of recovering small debts”.
This Court of Requests was restructured in 1841 to become known as the Division Court which in 1970 became known as the Small Claims Court of Ontario after the McRuer Report became the catalyst for re-evaluation of the Ontario courts system. The monetary authority of the Small Claims Court has incrementally increased over the years, but the most significant increase came in 2010 when the monetary jurisdiction was increased from $10,000.00 to $25,000.00.
This major increase caused a large number of matters / cases to be transferred from the higher or divisional courts down to the Small Claims Court Ontario, even to a degree that claimants were forgoing large sums of money and living with the lower monetary jurisdiction of $25,000.00. The procedures governing the Small Claims Court Ontario were envisioned for a streamlined system that fostered the theoretical processing of a large number of claims more efficiently at a reasonably affordable cost, given that lawyers did not have to be present to represent parties.
Discoveries and pre-trials were dispensed with and motions and other interlocutory applications were rare in the beginning, however, nowadays they are a common practice in the Small Claims Court Ontario. Whilst some of the procedures in the Small Claims Court are abridged, the rules provide a certain degree of protection to litigants, which ensure for the most part treatment that is just and fair. The Small Claims Court Ontario has evolved into an environment which approaches the popular concept of a “people’s court” however it is by no means similar to the Americanized small claims court television programs such as Judge Judy for example. The Small Claims Court Ontario still has a set of rules and procedures that dictate the manner in which proceedings and the preparation of documents should be handled when operating in this court.