Chapter 6 - Specific Areas

6.1 - Small Claims Court

The civil justice available in small claims courts has important implications for the integrity of law in general, given the pervasive "touch" of this court. [1]
A casual and insensitive approach to the quality of justice [in small claims court] will indicate a fundamental class bias in a society's judicial system. [2]

Introduction

We did not advance as far with the issue of Small Claims as we might have liked. Why that is so will become apparent in the next few pages.

We heard a great deal about the Small Claims Court during the First Report consultation phase of the Civil Justice Review. Approximately 135,000 small claims are issued in Ontario yearly, as compared to approximately 178,000 civil proceedings begun in the other areas of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division). Thus, in terms of numbers of disputes, the Small Claims Court deals with a very high proportion of cases in the Province, [3] and there can be no doubting the far-reaching implications for society of a satisfactory vehicle for the resolution of these types of differences between its members.

We heard that people generally liked the Small Claims Court as a forum to resolve smaller disputes. Several issues were raised regarding the court, however, including:

  • whether the monetary jurisdiction of the court should be increased, as suggested by users of the court;
  • whether lawyers, paralegal agents and/or businesses should be excluded in order to preserve the "people's court" character of the Small Claims Court; and
  • whether matters should be presided over by full-time Judges or part-time Deputy Judges. [4]

At the time of writing our First Report, we concluded that we were not in a position to make definitive recommendations regarding the question of small claims. A deeper study was in the process of being conducted by the Fundamental Issues Group of the Review, and the Simplified Rules procedure had not yet been adopted. Although we made a number of recommendations concerning the Small Claims Court -- which are restated later in this Chapter for clarity and reinforcement -- we felt that a more in-depth analysis of the small claims issue needed to await the development of the Fundamental Issues Group study and the evolution of the Simplified Rules initiative.

The Fundamental Issues Group has now completed its study on the Small Claims Court. [5] In addition, the Simplified Rules procedure for cases involving less than $25,000 has been put in place across the Province on a four-year pilot project basis. Little information is yet available as to how this latter concept is working and, in general, there remains a lack of adequate reliable data and information upon which to base well thought out proposals for an overall small claims system. The very comprehensive and thorough research efforts of Professor Iain Ramsay on behalf of the Fundamental Issues Group confirm this. They demonstrate, too, that broad policy issues need to be addressed and modern day objectives for such a system formulated before ultimate decisions about the appropriate type of forum and the appropriate type of processes for dealing with such disputes in the 21st century Ontario can be made.

This is a task which extends beyond the mandate of the Civil Justice Review to propose "specific and implementable" solutions to existing problems in the system -- and so, we find ourselves, again, in a position to point to the need for further study and reform in an area but not able to complete the journey down that road. To this end, we content ourselves, at the outset of this Chapter, with outlining some of the overriding issues that we believe need to be addressed by the policy makers in respect of small claims.

The Policy Issues

Research in American jurisdictions has identified four reasons why society should be concerned about Small Claims Courts: [6]

  • such courts provide "the forum where ... citizens are most likely to experience the legal system firsthand";
  • the "way that courts manage and adjudicate small claims cases ... affects the opinions that many citizens hold of the fairness and effectiveness of the ... system";
  • Small Claims Courts "perform an important societal function ... [as] the primary formal mechanism through which the majority of conflicts over contracts and personal injuries are resolved in [the] nation"; and,
  • there are "important and enduring policy questions regarding the nature and purpose of small claims ...".

What are some of these "important and enduring policy questions"? Many of them centre around determining the true objectives sought to be attained by a small claims process. There have been a number of objectives attributed to Small Claims Courts during the course of their existence -- some of them historical, some practical, and some philosophical. Is the objective: [7]

  • to provide an efficient and speedy mechanism for the collection of "smaller" debts by credit advancing institutions, other businesses, and individuals?
  • to provide "access to justice" for individuals involved in "smaller" disputes -- wage earners, tradespeople, consumers?
  • to present a broader and simpler "problem solving" forum -- as opposed to merely a "decision making" one -- where new ideas in dispute settlement such as mediation and ADR generally provide alternatives to the traditional adversary system in the higher courts? Or,
  • to offer a channel for diverting claims from those higher courts, in order to reduce the heavy caseload in them?

These questions must be addressed, as well, in the context of a society which is increasingly referring a wide variety of disputes that might otherwise fall within the rubric of "small claims" to differing tribunals or agencies. Landlord and tenant matters, neighbourhood property disputes, human rights issues, questions involving employment standards and wages, workers' grievances in union environments, health and safety requirements, certain consumer disputes and environmental issues themselves, all fall within this category. Where does the traditional view of a "small claims" mechanism fit into such a landscape, and how does it do so?

When the policy questions surrounding objectives and context have been considered, the matter of the appropriate type of forum -- and the relevant processes to be utilized in that forum -- can more readily be resolved. What shape should that forum take? Is it something modelled in the fashion of the higher courts, but with a more informal and simplified procedure? Or is it something with a purely non-rights based, lay-participation and mediative focus on the resolution of differences? Or -- in true Canadian fashion, and in this multi-door dispute resolution age -- is it a composite of these approaches?

Whether the overall structure of the Small Claims Court system needs to be redesigned and, if so, in what fashion, are not matters that fall comfortably within the mandate of the Civil Justice Review. They involve considerations which are of a broader and more in-depth nature than our search for specific and implementable solutions permits, although the studies conducted by the Fundamental Issues Group provide a valuable and interesting basis upon which to build. At the same time, however, the objectives, context and ultimate structure of small claims resolution in the Province are matters which do need to be reviewed and considered, in our view. We urge the Government to embark upon such an enquiry, in consultation with the Bench, Bar and Public. At a time when the movement for general reform in the civil justice area is gaining momentum and evoking results, the fit of this important area on the dispute resolution landscape needs to be completed. Accordingly, the Review makes the following recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that a Task Force be established to review the policy objectives and context of small claims dispute resolution in Ontario and the appropriate type of forum and process for the resolution of such disputes, and to make specific proposals in that regard.

In the meantime, there are issues respecting small claims that can be dealt with. We have made recommendations regarding some of them in our First Report, and reproduce them here for clarity:

WE RECOMMENDED THAT:

  • Small Claims Court proceedings across the province incorporate a standardized settlement conference/pre-trial process, with mediation-like services available as a part of that process where feasible;
  • Lawyers who act as Deputy Small Claims Court Judges receive mandatory training for the performance of their duties, under the direction of the Committee of the General Division Judges in consultation with the National Judicial Centre. We also recommended that this training include training in mediation and that Deputy Judges be compensated, at their per diem rate, while attending such training sessions;
  • The Courts of Justice Act be amended to provide for appeals from decisions of the Small Claims Court to a single judge of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) sitting in the region where the claim has been disposed of;
  • The monetary threshold for appeals from final orders in Small Claims Court be established at $1,200 for the present, and that the threshold be established automatically at 20% of the maximum monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court, as it may be prescribed by regulation from time to time; and
  • Consideration be given to establishing an optional procedure for appeals to be presented in writing from final orders of the Small Claims Court.

The balance of this Chapter deals with the three outstanding issues articulated at the beginning of the Chapter, namely:

  • monetary jurisdiction
  • the presence or absence of lawyers, paralegals and business claimants, and
  • Deputy Judges

Monetary Jurisdiction

We have stated that accessibility to the justice system is one of the criteria against which the modern civil justice system should be judged. It is important that the civil justice system provide members of the public with access to a forum where they can have their smaller disputes resolved in an economic fashion. However, smaller disputes should not require the full panoply of procedural rights which dominate the superior court process.

The Small Claims Court is intended to be the forum where smaller disputes are resolved in a timely, inexpensive and informal manner. Concern has been expressed, however, that the court's current monetary jurisdiction may be limiting the system's ability to process and try the public's smaller claims in such a manner. [8]

During our consultations, we heard that for some members of the public there currently is no forum for the cost-effective resolution of certain claims. For instance, one small business person told us that, while the dollar value of his contracts was too low to make it economical to bring a claim in the General Division, it was also too high for him to use the Small Claims Court. [9] Accordingly, despite having valid contracts upon which to sue, there was no cost-effective forum where he could bring his claims. The Review repeatedly heard that the monetary limit of the Court should be increased in order to provide cost-effective access to justice for such claims.

The General Division, however, has recently initiated a four-year pilot project pursuant to which Simplified Rules will be applicable to claims under $25,000. [10] The pilot project took effect on a province-wide basis on March 11, 1996. The expectation is that, with the availability of these Rules for claims under $25,000, the General Division will become more economically accessible; as a result, an increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court would likely be unnecessary. Unfortunately, because the Simplified Rules have only recently been implemented, the Review is not in a position to know whether this expectation will prove to be correct.

In these circumstances, consideration of an increase in the monetary limit of the Small Claims Court must be postponed, in our view. It is premature to make such a determination. A formal evaluation process to determine the impact of the Simplified Rules initiative has been implemented. Baseline data on the current operations of the General Division with respect to claims under $25,000 has been established, which will ensure that a meaningful evaluation is carried out. It is important that consideration of an increase in the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court await the results of this evaluation.

Further, with respect to increasing the court's monetary limit, we were cautioned that: [11]

It would be irresponsible to extend the jurisdiction of the small claims court without establishing accurate baseline data on the current operations of the court....
[I]t is imperative that there be a proper attempt to study the impact of [an increase in jurisdiction] through a systematic empirical analysis of the business of the court.

In our First Report we commented on the limitations of current court statistics. This applies equally to the Small Claims Court. As noted by Professor Ramsay: "[t]he current statistics on the operation of the small claims court do not provide meaningful information on many important aspects of the work of the court." [12] The Review agrees.

In order to determine whether an increase in the court's jurisdiction will have the desired results, it is necessary that baseline statistics on the current operations of the court be established. This will allow a proper analysis of any future jurisdictional increase. It is important that this baseline data be available prior to increasing the court's jurisdiction.

These two factors taken together -- the unknown impact of the Simplified Rules in the General Division for cases under $25,000 and the lack of statistical baseline data on the current operations of the Small Claims Court -- make it inappropriate to recommend an increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Court at this time.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court remain at $6,000 for the present time, pending further consideration following receipt of the results of the formal evaluation of the Simplified Rules initiative.

In the meantime, we recommend that an empirical study be undertaken to establish baseline data on the current operations of the Small Claims Court. This study should include an evaluation of the Small Claims Courts at three sites across the province. The three sites should represent a large urban centre, a medium centre, and a smaller rural centre. This study should be completed and evaluated prior to any increase in the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court being implemented.

Preserving the "People's Court" Character of the Small Claims Court

Despite not recommending that the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court be increased at this time, the Review considers it important that concerns regarding the "people's court" character of the Small Claims Court be addressed. During our consultations many users of the court were concerned that an increase in jurisdiction might impact on its informal character. The reasons underlying this concern are twofold.

The first is that an increase in jurisdiction may lead to more parties using lawyers. The use of lawyers generally results in a greater level of formality in the court which can detract from its "people's court" character. Similarly, legal representation of one party is believed to impose increased pressure on the other party to hire a lawyer due to a perceived bias in favour of represented parties, particularly plaintiffs.

Secondly, it is suggested that, with an increase in jurisdiction, there will be an increased use by business plaintiffs. The presence of business litigants is thought by some to deter individual plaintiffs from bringing their claims to the Small Claims Court because of its "chilling effect". [13] The presence of business litigants is also believed to contribute to the image of the Small Claims Court as a debt collection agency. If accurate, these perceptions could well have an impact on the "people's court" character of the Small Claims Court.

Suggestions were therefore made to the Review that, in order to preserve the "people's court" character, consideration should be given to:

  • excluding lawyers, paralegal agents and other representatives from appearing at trial; and
  • preventing businesses from using the Court.

a.   The Presence of Lawyers in the Small Claims Court

The National Center for State Courts has undertaken two studies of Small Claims Courts in a number of states, one in 1978 and one in 1990 (referred to as the "National Studies"). [14] Both studies concluded that the level of legal representation increases as the monetary value of a claim increases. The evaluation of the British Columbia Small Claims Court program also supports this conclusion. [15] This is likely because the higher the dollar value of the claim, the more important it is to the party and the more uncomfortable they may feel about representing their own interests.

The National Studies also suggested that there "should be careful judicial control of the participation of lawyers" [16] in order to maintain a check on both the formality and length of trial. This suggests that the presence of lawyers will affect the level of formality and, in turn, the "people's court" character. The exclusion of lawyers, however, appears to be more prevalent in U.S. Small Claims Courts [17] ; in Canada, it would appear that only the province of Quebec currently excludes lawyers, and only for cases involving less than $3,000.

It has also been suggested that prohibiting lawyers in the Small Claims Court will correct the perceived bias in favour of represented parties. The Review is aware that there may be added pressure on a party to hire a lawyer due to this perceived bias. Studies have shown, however, that this perception is not entirely accurate. In fact, the National Studies have found that there is no bias in favour of plaintiffs who are represented and that being represented by a lawyer was not determinative of the outcome of a case. [18] In the 1978 Study, however, there did appear to be a general bias against defendants, whether facing a represented or an unrepresented plaintiff. [19]

Based on these findings, the two National Studies concluded that there is no basis to exclude lawyers and that they should be permitted at trial in the Small Claims Court. [20]

The Review concurs with this conclusion and is of the view that it is not appropriate to exclude lawyers from the Small Claims Court. Some members of the public may be deterred from pursuing their claims in the Small Claims Court, particularly when larger amounts of money are involved, if they are not permitted to be represented at trial. Further, excluding lawyers carries the danger that the public will be less protected in situations where they face an experienced repeat litigant. The goals of the Small Claims Court are best achieved, in our view, by allowing parties the freedom to decide whether to use a lawyer.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that lawyers, agents, and paralegals should not be excluded from representing parties in the Small Claims Court.

In making this recommendation we are aware, however, that legal costs in the Small Claims Court can reach a level that is disproportionate to the amount at stake. It is important that the costs associated with legal services not outstrip the amount of the claim. The lawyer's right to fair and reasonable compensation should be balanced against the jurisdictional context of the Small Claims Court.

At present, provincial jurisdictions do not impose a cap on the fees lawyers can charge for small claims work. Other jurisdictions, however, have imposed such restrictions. For instance, in Germany, lawyers' fees in civil cases are based upon a regulated fixed percentage that varies with the value of the claim. [21] In England, the Right Honourable the Lord Woolf in his Final Report on the English civil justice system recommends that for those cases in the lower end (under £10,000, or about $22,000 Cdn.) which would be streamed to a fast track under a case management system, there should be fixed costs which would be directly related to the amount of the claim. In particular, he makes the following recommendations: [22]

  • There should be a regime of fixed recoverable costs for fast track cases;
  • The guideline maximum legal costs on the fast track should be £2,500 (or about $5,500 Cdn.), excluding VAT and disbursements;
  • The costs payable by a client to his own solicitor should be limited to the level of the fixed costs plus disbursements unless there is a written agreement between the client and his solicitor which sets out clearly the different terms;
  • The costs regime should reflect case value in two bands; up to £5,000 (or about $11,000 Cdn.), and up to £10,000 (or about $22,000 Cdn.). There should be two levels of costs within each value band, one for straightforward cases and the other for cases requiring additional work.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that lawyers' fees be limited to a maximum of 40% of the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court (currently $6,000). The lawyer would be entitled to compensation up to this maximum (which would currently be $2,400), subject to an agreement to accept a lesser amount, regardless of the outcome in the case.

b.   The Presence of Businesses in the Small Claims Court

At present, it appears that the exclusion of businesses is more prevalent among U.S. Small Claims Courts than Canadian. According to the National Studies, in 1978, four of the fifteen states considered prohibited collection agencies in their Small Claims Court [23] , and in the 1990 study, seven of the twelve states reviewed did. [24] Currently, it would appear that only the province of Quebec prohibits incorporated businesses from using the Small Claims Court. While the rationale for imposing such a prohibition is to prevent the "chilling effect" on individual plaintiffs referred to earlier, experience has shown that their presence does not deter individual plaintiffs from using the court.

The National Studies tested the "chilling effect" argument by comparing the filing rates by individuals per 1,000 of population in jurisdictions that prohibited collection agencies and those that allowed collection agencies. It was found that allowing collection agencies to use the court did not impact upon individual filing rates. [25] In other words, the presence of collection agencies did not have a "chilling effect" on individual plaintiffs bringing their claims in the Small Claims Court. Moreover, it was concluded that excluding collection agencies may have more dangerous consequences as businesses would probably file their claims in the court of general jurisdiction, where it is unlikely that a defendant could proceed without a lawyer. [26]

In Quebec, the intent of the exclusion was to safeguard the "people's court" character of its Small Claims Court. The experience has been, however, that despite the exclusion of incorporated businesses, a significant percentage of cases are still brought by unincorporated businesses for the collection of debts. As a result, the court still has the image of a debt collection agency.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that businesses, such as collection agencies, should not be excluded from using the Small Claims Court.

Deputy Judges

In our First Report we asked whether Small Claims Court matters should be presided over by part-time Deputy Judges [27] or full-time provincially-appointed Judges. We noted that the funding implications of the latter option are significant for the provincial government, which makes this issue a difficult one to consider. While a full-time provincially appointed bench would likely be the best model of adjudication, the use of part-time Deputy Judges has been a valuable alternative.

The majority of lawyers who act as Deputy Judges bring extensive legal experience to the Small Claims Court -- usually more than 10 years at the Bar. Similarly, most are keenly interested in resolving the parties' dispute. The Review would like to recognize the valuable contribution these members of the legal profession make to the operation of the civil justice system.

a.   Training

During our consultations we found that most users were generally satisfied with the Small Claims Court, including the adjudicators. There were, however, some criticisms concerning the use of part-time Deputy Judges because of a perceived inconsistency in decision-making.

While this criticism is based largely on anecdotal evidence, there is empirical evidence to support it. Professor Ramsay in his paper on Small Claims Courts reviewed a number of studies on Small Claims Court Judges. In describing these studies he states: "the striking conclusion from these studies is the diversity of judicial approaches in small claims courts" [28] and concludes that: [29]

There appears to be a remarkable variability in approaches to adjudication by small claims court judges. Litigants will therefore experience different patterns of justice dependent on the particular approach of the judge. Since significant numbers of individuals are unrepresented there is little control over this discretion.

It is important that there be a standardized approach to the resolution of Small Claims Court matters. In our First Report we attributed this lack of standardization, in part, to the fact that Deputy Judges are in essence part-time "volunteers", leaving their law practices for usually one day a month to sit as a Small Claims Court Judge. This makes it difficult for them to have a continuity of experience as a judge and, without this continuity, it is difficult to ensure a consistent approach.

We also noted that this inconsistency in decision-making is due to the lack of training Deputy Judges receive with respect to their role as Small Claims Court Judges. We recommended that Deputy Judges receive mandatory training for the performance of their duties. We continue to believe this is important and reiterate our recommendation.

We also learned of a perception that Deputy Judges are unsympathetic to consumer claims, which represent a significant number of Small Claims Court cases. [30] This perception may exist because most lawyers do not deal with either consumer claims or consumer legislation on a regular basis in their day-to-day practices. It is important that Deputy Judges possess the necessary knowledge to deal with all types of cases that arise in the Small Claims Court. Training can ensure they have this knowledge.

Concern has been expressed that requiring training for what is essentially a volunteer position will be too burdensome. While some lawyers may consider it to be a burden, we anticipate that most lawyers currently acting as Deputy Judges, as well as future candidates, will participate willingly in a mandatory training session.

RECOMMENDATION

Supplemental to Recommendation 48 in our First Report, we recommend that training of Deputy Judges include instruction in:

  • a standardized approach to the hearing and disposition of Small Claims Court matters;
  • consumer claims including applicable legislation;
  • poverty law issues; and
  • case management.

b.   Appointment Process

The present system of appointing Deputy Judges has also received some criticism. Concern has been expressed that there is an inadequate screening of candidates to determine whether they have the necessary knowledge and skills to decide small claims cases.

At present, there is no advertisement of the position. Applications are made on the basis of the individual applicant's initiative and frequently on the basis of the recommendation of the local justice. Prospective candidates apply to the Regional Senior Justice of their region. If the Regional Senior Justice considers the person to be appropriate, he/she is recommended to the Attorney General. Subject to a satisfactory police file check, the appointment is usually confirmed. The process is informal and allows the Regional Senior Justice a flexible and quick method of securing deputy judge services.

In our view, however, it is important that a recruitment and appointment process be established which allows for the selection of the most suitable candidates from the widest number of eligible persons. Further, we believe that selection criteria should be established. At present, there are no prescribed standards or qualifications for appointment. Selection criteria are important to ensure that candidates possess the skills and attitudes necessary to deal with the types of claims which arise in the Small Claims Court. For instance, we believe it is important that candidates are comfortable in taking an active case management approach to the hearing of Small Claims Court cases. It is also important, in our view, that they are comfortable dealing with unrepresented parties.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that a formal recruitment process for Deputy Judges be established and that candidates be screened with regard to the following criteria:

  • membership in good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada;
  • a minimum number of years of legal experience;
  • mediation experience;
  • community service;
  • professional reputation;
  • an ability to take an active case management approach; and
  • an ability to deal with unrepresented litigants.

Access to Information

In our First Report we made several recommendations regarding access to information about the civil justice system. [31] We wish to reiterate our view that information should be readily available to the public in "plain language" and in a variety of mediums, languages and formats. At present, information on the Small Claims Court is only available in English and French in a brochure format. Recently, this information was made available on the Internet through the Ministry of the Attorney General's World Wide Web Site. Having understandable information about the Small Claims Court readily available throughout the province is an important component of ensuring access to justice.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that the "How to Make Small Claims Court Work for You" brochure be available in languages other than English and French.

We recommend that, in addition to providing information on the Internet, experiments be conducted in providing information on the Small Claims Court through interactive electronic kiosks in shopping malls, community centres, town halls and libraries.

Court Processing Standards

At present, there are no standards for the processing of small claims cases. Without standards, such as time to trial measures and limits on the number of adjournments, the public will not know what to expect in terms of how their case should proceed through the system. This lack of knowledge -- and corresponding uncertainty -- may deter some people from using the Small Claims Court. It is important that court processing standards for the disposition of small claims cases be established and that these standards be provided to parties at the time they file their claim or defence.

Public Satisfaction

Similarly, there are currently no means to measure the public's level of satisfaction with the Small Claims Court. We do not know, other than from anecdotal evidence, whether the public is satisfied with the process and level of service. To inform future reform efforts, it is important to know whether the system is meeting the needs of the public. There should be a regular process for the users of the Small Claims Court to evaluate the system.

Policy Making

Policy issues relating to the operation and management of the Small Claims Court are generally the responsibility of the Small Claims Court Rules Subcommittee, which is composed of lawyers, judges and court administrators. At present, there are no para-legal or public representatives on this Committee. In order that policy issues relating to the Small Claims Court are decided in a responsive manner, it is important that there is input from all users of the court.

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that a Working Group, which includes users of the Small Claims Court, be established by the Chief Justice and the Attorney General to make recommendations within 6 months of its creation with regard to:

  • court processing standards for the disposition of Small Claims Court cases;
  • evaluation processes to measure public satisfaction with the processes in place; and
  • appropriate membership on the Small Claims Court Rules Subcommittee.

Footnotes:

[1] Adams, "The Small Claims Court and the Adversary System" (1973), 51 Canadian Bar Review 585, at p.587.
[2] Russell, The Judiciary in Canada: The Third Branch of Government (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1987), at p. 237.
[3] First Report of the Civil Justice Review (Toronto: Civil Justice Review, March 1995), at pp. 284 - 285.
[4] During our consultations, it was suggested that the use of part-time Deputy Judges has resulted in inconsistencies in decision-making.
[5] See Ramsay, Small Claims Courts: A Review (October 25, 1995) [hereinafter "Ramsay"].
[6] Goerdt, Small Claims and Traffic Courts: Case Management Procedures, Case Characteristics, and Outcomes in 12 Urban Jurisdictions (Williamsburg V.A.: National Center for State Courts, 1992), at pp. 3 - 4 [hereinafter "1990 Study"].
[7] See, generally, Ramsay, supra, note 5, at pp. 10 - 12, and the research studies referred to therein.
[8] At present, the Small Claims Court has the monetary jurisdiction to deal with claims up to $6,000 in value: see Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.C.43, s.23; O.Reg. 92/93 (in force April 1, 1993).
[9] Most of his contracts are between $10,000 and $20,000. Reducing the dollar amount of his claim in order to be within the $6,000 jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court meant he would be foregoing a significant part of his claim. This was something he could not afford to do on a regular basis.
[10] R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, am.O.Reg. 533/95.
[11] Ramsay, supra, note 5, at pp. 4 and 5.
[12] Id., at p.4.
[13] See, for example, Weller, Ruhnka and Martin, "American Small Claims Courts" in Whelan (ed.) Small Claims Court: A Comparative Study (Oxford University Press, 1990) 5, at p.9.
[14] See Weller, Ruhnka and Martin, Small Claims Courts: A National Examination (Williamsburg, Va.: National Centre for State Courts, 1978) [hereinafter "1978 Study"]; 1990 Study, supra, note 6. These studies are collectively referred to as the "National Studies". See, also, id., and Goerdt, "The People's Court: A Summary of Findings and Policy Implications from a Study in 12 Urban Small Claims Courts" (1993), 17 State Court Journal 38, which discusses these studies respectively.
[15] Province of British Columbia, Ministry of the Attorney General, Evaluation of the Small Claims Program (December 15, 1992), at p.19. The evaluation shows that for those cases in the new jurisdiction range ($3,000 to $10,000) the proportion of unrepresented litigants was 55%, while for those cases in the old jurisdiction range (up to $3,000) the proportion of unrepresented litigants was about 70%.
[16] 1978 Study, supra, note 14, at p.71; see, also 1990 Study, supra, note 6, at p.69.
[17] According to the National Studies, in 1978, 5 of the 15 states that were considered in the study prohibited lawyers in their Small Claims Courts and in 1990, 7 of the 12 did: see 1978 Study, id., at pp. 10 - 12; and 1990 Study, id., at p.7.
[18] 1978 Study, id., at p.71; 1990 Study, id., at pp. 54 - 57, 68 - 69.
[19] See Weller, Ruhnka and Martin, "American Small Claims Courts", supra, note 13, at pp. 11 - 12.
[20] 1978 Study, supra, note 14, at p.71; 1990 Study, supra, note 6, at p.69; see, also, Weller, Ruhnka and Martin, "American Small Claims Courts", supra, note 13, at p.12.
[21] See The Right Honourable the Lord Woolf, Access to Justice: Interim Report to the Lord Chancellor on the civil justice system in England and Wales (June, 1995), at p.46.
[22] The Right Honourable the Lord Woolf, Access to Justice: Final Report to the Lord Chancellor on the civil justice system in England and Wales (July, 1996), at p.58.
[23] 1978 Study, supra, note 14, at pp. 9 - 10.
[24] 1990 Study, supra, note 6, at p.7.
[25] See Goerdt, "The People's Court: A Summary of Findings and Policy Implications from a Study in 12 Urban Small Claims Courts", supra, note 14, at pp. 41 - 42; and see Weller, Ruhnka and Martin, "American Small Claims Courts", supra, note 13, at p.10.
[26] Weller, Ruhnka and Martin, id.
[27] Deputy Judges are lawyers who are appointed for a 3 year renewable term to adjudicate small claims matters: see Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.C.43, s.32.
[28] Ramsay, supra, note 5, at p.36.
[29] Id., at p.2.
[30] Id., at p.30.
[31] First Report, supra, note 3, at pp. 384 - 390.

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