Looking for the Access to
Justice Research Network
(AJRN)? Click here

Inventory of Reforms

BC Small Claims Court Reforms


Legislative changes to BC’s Small Claims Court.

Permanent Implementation

British Columbia

Small Claims Court (Provincial Court, Civil Division)

Body Responsible:
Attorney General

February 1991: New Small Claims Act came into force
September 2005: Monetary jurisdiction of the court increased from $10,000 to $25,000

Small Claims Rules, B.C. Reg. 261/93.
Small Claims Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 430.
Tracey Tyler , Small claims hit the big time Toronto Star (28 July 2007), online: Toronto Star.
Ministry of Attorney General, Civil Justice Reform Projects, Small Claims Reform (website) (2009).

A branch of the Provincial Court, the Small Claims Court is established by ss.2 and 3 of the new Small Claims Act, which came into force on February 25, 1991 and replaced the previously existing Act. The Small Claims Act was amended by the Justice Modernization Statutes Amendment Act, 2004 to allow the monetary jurisdiction of the court to be set by regulation, to a maximum of $50,000.

The 1991 “new small claims court program [was] intended to respond to concerns identified in relation to the delay, cost, complexity of existing procedures, problems of enforcement of judgments and problems of rural access” (Review at 518 to 519).

The 2005 initiatives were put into place to “help modernize the province’s civil justice system and improve access to justice” and to address the issue of proportionality (Small Claims Reform).

Description of Reforms:
Main Aspects of 1991 Reforms

2005 Initiatives
Effective Sept. 1, 2005, a regulation was brought into force increasing the monetary jurisdiction of the court from $10,000 to $25,000. The monetary jurisdiction had been set at $10,000 since 1991. This increase allows people to take advantage of the low cost and simple procedure available in Small Claims Court.

Also effective Sept. 1, 2005, the Crown Proceeding Act was amended to remove the barrier to suing the government in Small Claims Court. Previously, people wanting to make claims against the government were forced to use the more costly and complex process in the Supreme Court.

Small Claims Reform
Notable Highlights of the Small Claims Act

Results of Evaluation of 1991 Reforms

2005 Initiative
In 2007, Associate Chief Justice Dennis Schmidt of the B. C. Provincial Court speaking regarding the the caseload of the Small Claims Court after the 2005 initiative said that “not much happened”. He stated that while “We anticipated there would be a real inflow of cases but, as it turned out, there’s been no increase in volume”. As an explanation, he suggests “that before 2005, people were reducing their claims to keep within the court’s monetary jurisdiction and have since been filing claims that reflect more accurately the amount at stake.” (Small Claims Hit the Big Time).

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Aug 16, 2012