Sued in the Small Claims Court? What Happens Next?
There are over 90,000 new Small Claims Court Actions filed in Ontario each year and more than 150,000 Small Claims Court actions filed throughout Canada. Small Claims Court actions are usually filed by creditors like banks, finance companies and the collection agencies who represent them.
Court Actions are also filed by individuals and businesses who are suing one another for a particular incident or contract dispute.
In most Provinces including Ontario and British Columbia, a Small Claims Court action can be filed for up to $25,000.00. In most Provinces, the Small Claims Court process is as follows:
1. One party files a claim against another party.
2. The other party can then file a Defense.
3. If no Defense is filed, the party who initiated the claim can apply for default judgement.
4. If a Defense is filed, the parties will then attend a pre-trial conference and if they are unable to settle the matter, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, if the party who initiated the claim is successful he will be awarded judgement.
Once a judgement has been awarded, the party who has the judgement can then take enforcement action using a variety of Small Claims Court remedies. They can file the judgement with the Sheriff’s office so that in the future if the individual tries to apply for financing (like a mortgage) and an execution search is performed, the individual will be required to pay off the judgement before he can obtain his financing. The party who holds the judgement can also apply for a wage garnishment. When this occurs a “Notice of Garnishment” will be sent to the debtor’s employer requiring the employer to remit 20% of the debtor’s net earnings to the Small Claims Court. The employer cannot refuse to honour the garnishment or else the debt could effectively be transferred to the employer and then he could owe the money.
The party who holds the judgement can also file a lien on the debtor’s property, like a home or vehicle, and can also send notice to the bank to have their bank account frozen. They can call an assessment hearing requiring the debtor to attend the court and disclose their assets, earnings and more…
If you owe money to your creditors and are in default, don’t let things go this far. It is better to work with a debt consultant who will work with your creditors to come up with a plan to deal with your debts. If you have already been sued in the Small Claims Court, have had a judgement issued against you and enforcement action is being taken, you have options. There are Federal Government programs that can be accessed through a debt consultant that will stop enforcement action issued by the Small Claims Court. Coming up with a plan to deal with debt owed to creditors will enable you to avoid the stress, embarrassment and financial hardship that can accompany a Small Claims Court action and provide you with a road map to financial recovery.