Toronto (October 24, 2019) – The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General announced on Wednesday that the limit for Small Claims Courts will be increased from $25,000 to $35,000. At the moment, all claims over $25,000 must proceed in the Superior Court of Justice which is one of the busiest courts in Canada according to the Ministry. By increasing the limit for Small Claims Courts, cases are supposed to be resolved more quickly and those affected can reduce their legal fees by hiring paralegals, law students, or by representing themselves. The change will become effective on January 1, 2020.
Beginning January 1, 2020, the limit for filing a claim at a Small Claims Court will be increased to $35,000, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General announced on October 23. The current limit has been in place since 2010 when it was increased from $10,000. Moreover, the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court will increase from $2,500 to $3,500 as well.
Presently, claims that are higher than $25,000 must proceed in the Superior Court of Justice, which is one of the busiest courts in Canada, according to the Ministry. Subsequently, wait times are really high and litigation can take years. The change is also supposed to reduce the case numbers filed at the Superior Court of Justice, which should have a positive effect on the wait times.
The Ontario government is seeking to reduce time in court by taking advantage of the fact that Small Claims courts resolve their cases often in less than a year. Additionally, claimants can spend less on legal fees since they are not required to hire lawyers. Attorney General Doug Downey explained that “[a]s a result of the change, more people will be able to file and respond to claims using less expensive representation, such as paralegals and law students, or through self-representation.”
Cases that fall within the new threshold and have already been filed with the Superior Court can be transferred to one of the 77 Small Claims Courts across Ontario.