SMALL CLAIMS COURT UPDATE
by Darryl A. Aarbo
Small Claims Court offers a good alternative to plaintiffs because it offers a streamlined procedure that tends to be faster and less expensive. One does not need a lawyer in that court because of the simplified rules, but the basic rules of evidence and procedure do apply. They are only simplified. In other words, the rules are not applied as strictly as in the Court of Queen's Bench, but they do apply so some claims may be better handled by a lawyer if they are more complicated.
Also, the reason that Small Claims Court is faster and cheaper is because there is only a limited right of discovery. There is normally an order for document production, but one does not get a pre-trial discovery process (now called questioning) that is offered in Queen's Bench. This means there is no opportunity to question the other party before trial. This can be invaluable in some cases.
Finally, there are some matters that always have to be in Court of Queen's Bench, no matter the amount. These include Surrogate Court (wills and estates) matters, most property based claims and certain torts like defamation, to name a few. One should always check the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court before filing.
For more information go to Alberta Courts:
or contact one of the lawyers at Courtney Aarbo Fuldauer LLP