If someone starts an action against you in Small Claims Court, by what are called either a Plaintiff’s Claim or a Defendant’s Claim, you are what is called the Defendant.

If you ignore the Claim and do nothing, the other side (the Plaintiff) will be able to obtain Judgment against you without further notice and without a full Trial.  You must file a Defence within 20 days of being served with the Claim otherwise you could forgo your right to defend.

You can either pay the amount claimed or decide to fight the matter in court.  If you wish to contest the Claim, you need to review the Claim and documents served, consider what you agree with (if anything) and what you wish to refute, and then consider what you need to prove your case and what documents or witnesses will you need to support your version of the events.  Of course that will be determined by what is the basis of the Claim.  Documents might include:  quotes/estimates, contracts, invoices, photographs, banking records, emails, letter correspondence, text messages, etc.  You may also need to obtain reports from expert witnesses, depending on your case.

If you have decided to retain Miller Paralegal Services to represent you in your matter, you need to provide all of this information and documentation as soon as possible after service of the Claim so that it can be filed and served with the Defence as is required by the Rules of the Small Claims Court.  Of course if anything else should arise during the course of the proceeding, for example something you didn’t think was relevant to the case at first, additional documents can be received and served throughout the process.

You may also want to consider if you feel someone else may be responsible for all or part of the Claim or if there are things you believe the Plaintiff owes you for that are related to the issues of the Claim.  If so, we would consider the preparation, filing and service of a Defendant’s Claim and would require all documents and witness information to support your position in the Defendant’s Claim.

For the next steps in the proceeding, see Phase 2 – Settlement Conference and Negotiations.