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Small Claims Court and You

We all have problems we face, whether personally or in business. Sometimes we’re forced to ask ourselves the question of whether or not our problem means enough to us that we should do something about it.

Oftentimes, we don’t do anything because we don’t know where to start or what our options are. One of these options is having your problem resolved in the Small Claims Court of Manitoba.

For less than $100 filing costs, you can move your action forward to a scheduled hearing date and have a Hearing Officer listen to you make your case, listen to the Defendant’s case and then issue a decision once he or she has had time to analyze the evidence on the record and determine whose version of the events is the more probable situation giving rise to the Claimant alleging it has a suit.

The maximum amount of a claim you can bring is limited to $10,000.00. While this may present some inconvenience to those whose claims are valued slightly higher than that, you’ll be best served by consulting with a lawyer to determine if you would be better off eating the difference that is above $10,000.00 or if you should decide to move your Claim through the Court of Queen’s Bench (i.e. all claims above $10,000.00).

While you wouldn’t necessarily need a lawyer to represent you in a Small Claims Hearing, if you want to be sure you are following all of the required procedural rules and have the best possible chance of advancing an ordered, cohesive legal position, you will want legal representation for the Court of Queen’s Bench.

A  lawyer being involved in any litigation based matter will make you better off than acting as a self-represented litigant.

Reasons for hiring a lawyer being a good decision are many, reasons not to are few, aside from the practical considerations, like costs. As your ability to recoup your costs is limited to $100.00 in Small Claims, you will have to engage in some thorough analysis in
determining if hiring a lawyer is the right call to make. Depending on whether some legal complexities are involved, as opposed to the credibility of the parties alone, you may want a lawyer to advance your case.

What’s meant by advancing your case in a potentially legally complex situation is that a lawyer should be able to determine in hearing the circumstances surrounding your potential claim whether or not there may be legal arguments to be made, either in pursuing the claim or defending against one.

In doing this, your lawyer should also be able to determine if your situation is suitable for a claim of additional damages to the amount you say you’re owed. The Small Claims Court permits a claim of $2,000.00 for “general damages” within the $10,000.00 ceiling. Knowing when a claim for damages may or may not apply is another added advantage to seeking a lawyer’s advice before filing or not deciding to pursue your claim.

However, never assume that hiring a lawyer is going to be inexpensive, even when dealing with claim amount that is $10,000.00 or less. The only thing that really changes in legally complex situations is the dollar value. Often times, the legal issues are the exact same as in the Court of Queen’s Bench. This can make navigating the client-lawyer relationship difficult, because you’ll want the best product your lawyer can provide, and your lawyer will be mentally focusing on how to keep your exposure to legal fees to a minimum.

This is why, if you think you need some answers to your questions about a particular situation, it’s always best to set-up a consultation with a lawyer to get their view and advice. While the consultation fee may be an initial cost to you, it could end-up getting you a profit or potentially saving you $10,000.00.

It’s during this consultation that your lawyer can let you know what you could expect in legal fees for hiring legal representation as you discuss your particular fact scenario.

It’s your call to make, but you’ll never lose by being properly informed.

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Notice: The articles on our website are provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or opinion. They reflect the current state of the law as at the date of posting on the website, and are subject to change without notice. If you require legal advice or opinion, we would be pleased to provide you with our assistance on any of the issues raised in these articles.