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

Inventory of Reforms

Back to Inventory of Reforms

Manitoba Small Claims Court

Year:
1988

Description:
Overview of the Manitoba Small Claims Court.

Status:
Permanent Implementation

Jurisdiction:
Manitoba

Court:
Court of Queen’s Bench

Timeline:
September 1989: Monetary jurisdiction of the Court increased from $3,000 to $5,000
March 1983: Results of the First Review of the Small Claims Court released
January 1989: Provision for general damages in an amount not exceeding $1,000 added
March 1998: Results of the Second Review of the Small Claims Court released
July 1999: Monetary jurisdiction of the Court increased from $5,000 to $7,500
July 1999: General damages limit increased from $1,000 to $1,500
February 2007: Monetary jurisdiction of the Court increased from $7,5000 to $10,000
February 2007: General damages limit increased from $1,500 to $2,000

Publications:
Manitoba Law Reform Commission, Review of the Small Claims Court (Winnipeg, Manitoba 1998). [Second Review]
Rule 76, Small Claims, Court of Queen’s Bench Rules, Man. Reg. 553/88, as amended
The Court of Queen’s Bench Small Claims Practices Act, C.C.S.M. c. C285.
Court of Queen’s Bench, Small Claims DivisionExternal Link (Manitoba Courts, March 2009).

Development:
A province-wide small claim system was put in place in Manitoba in 1972 through Part II of The County Courts Act. The monetary jurisdiction at the time was set at $1,000.

Currently, the Small Claims Court is a division of Court of Queen’s Bench governed by The Court of Queen’s Bench Small Claims Practices Act.

Purpose:
To provide for the determination of claims in a simple manner as expeditious, informal and inexpensive as possible commensurate with the matters at issue in each claim.

Description of Reforms:
1983 Review of the Small Claims Court
In March, 1983, the Manitoba Law Reform Commission conducted a review of the adjudication of small claims in the Province. A number of recommendations were made, including recommendations relating to

creation of a separate division for adjudication of small claims
expertise and powers of the adjudicators
monetary limit increase
restriction of the jurisdiction of the Court
establishment of a mediation programme
relaxation of application of the rules of evidence
review of the forms and information available to the public
increasing the public awareness of the Court

(First Review at 50-54).

In the fifteen years following the release of the First Review, several of the Commission’s recommendations were implemented: “the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court was increased from $1,000 to $3,000, and later to $5,000; its jurisdiction was restricted by excluding certain types of actions; the rules of evidence were expressly relaxed; and costs awards were strictly limited” (Second Review at 1).

1998 Review of the Small Claims Court
In March 1998, the Manitoba Law Reform Commission released the results of its review of the Small Claims Court, making 15 recommendations, including recommendations related to:

expertise and powers of the hearing officers
monetary limit increase
implementation of a mediation programme
expert reports

(Second Review at 51-52).

No major revisions to the Rules or the Act, apart form the increase in the monitory limits, have taken place since the release of the Second Review.

Monetary Jurisdiction Increases
On September 1, 1989, the monetary jurisdiction was raised from $3,000 to $5,000
On January 1, 1992, the provision for general damages in an amount not exceeding $1,000 was introduced
On July 14, 1999, the monetary jurisdiction was raised from $5,000 to $7,500, and general damages limit was raised from $1,000 to $1,500
On February 12, 2007, the monetary jurisdiction was raised from $7,500 to $10,000, and general damages limit was raised from $1,500 to $2,000

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