What is the Process for Small Claims Court?

If you need to sue someone to recover monies owed, property, damages to property or person, etc., you are the Plaintiff. If someone is suing you, you are the Defendant.

Currently, the limit of the Small Claims Court Deputy Judge is $10,000.00. On January 1, 2010, that limit will be increasing to $25,000.00.

Taking someone to court, or being taken to court, can be an expensive and drawn out process. Miller Paralegal Services offers free consultation for a fair and honest assessment of your particular situation plus the professional advice you need on how to possibly resolve the matter.

If a demand letter is sufficient to collect amounts owed to you, will not be charged further fees. If it appears that a matter cannot be resolved and must be taken before the court, fee ranges will be discussed.

If you are being taken to court, you must defend yourself, otherwise a Judgment will be rendered against you.

Going into court with proper representation, either as the Plaintiff or the Defendant, is in your best interest. Make sure you go in with a professional, experienced, licenced and insured paralegal.

For more information from the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, on the Small Claims Court processes, click here.

Why Should I Fight a Charge in Provincial Offenses Court?

You should investigate every offence including obtaining legal advice before deciding on whether to dispute the charge. You may not know all of the ramifications of a guilty plea (and yes – that is what you are doing when you simply pay the ticket) just from the amount of the fine. There could be implications due to demerit points and/or insurance risks.

Miller Paralegal Services offers free consultation for a fair and honest assessment of your particular situation plus the professional advice you need on how to possibly resolve the matter.

You may also wish to seek advice from an insurance agent or broker before you pay any ticket because it could result in higher insurance premiums or you being placed in a “high risk” facility insurance category.

Demerit Points:

Drivers in Ontario start off with no demerit points but points are added upon conviction, depending on the charge. Most moving traffic violations (see chart) do carry demerit points. Administrative and equipment charges, generally speaking, do not.

When a conviction is registered against a driver, the court automatically notifies the Ministry of Transportation (the “Ministry”) who then record the conviction(s) and applicable demerit points on your driving record. The court has no jurisdiction over the points and cannot convict for an offence but not impose the points.

Points remain on your driving record for two years, from the date of the offence – not the conviction date. Although the points may be removed, the conviction is still part of your driving record and may be brought back against you in further Court proceedings.

For further information about demerit points from the Ministry of Transportation website, click here.

CVOR Points

Commercial truck drivers and their company may also face implications on the CVOR. For further information for commercial drivers from the Ministry of Transportation website, click here.

Insurance Implications

Insurance companies may increase your premium for any violation of the Highway Traffic Act, the Criminal Code of Canada, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, or any other Federal, Provincial, or Municipal driving law. Convictions remain on your insurance record for a minimum of 3 years from the date of the conviction, and accidents for a minimum of 5 years from the date of the collision.

Most insurance companies look at the number of convictions and do not necessarily concern themselves with the accumulated demerit points – unless you are a professional driver. A professional driver with “too many” demerit points (a much lower standard than the Ministry’s) may be deemed to be uninsurable and therefore your job could be at risk.

Instead, insurance companies generally place offences into one of three categories and have policies in place as to how many in each category are “acceptable”. Your insurer may have its own policies in place and therefore you should check your own individual policy for the implications. In general even one “major” or “serious” conviction will either increase your premium or put you into “high risk facility” insurance rates, which are usually 3 to 5 times those of other drivers for the same age and years of driving experience. Generally, the categories are as follows:

  • Minor: including
    • simple moving traffic violations such as failing to wear a seat belt, lower level speeding charges; or
    • documentation (administrative) type charges such as failing to produce your drivers licence, proof of insurance or vehicle ownership when asked by an officer; or
    • vehicle equipment offences such as burned out headlight
  • Major: including
    • more serious charges such as failing to report any accident, higher level speeding charges, and driving without insurance.
  • Serious: including
    • very serious charges such as careless driving, impaired driving, very high speeding charges, racing or stunt driving, and driving while disqualified or under suspension.

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