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Newfoundland and Labrador Small Claims Court

Year: 
1979
Description: 

Overview of the Small Claims Court, the civil division of the Provincial Court.

Status: 

Permanent implementation

Jurisdiction: 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Court: 

Small Claims Court, division of the Provincial Court

Timeline: 
2005 Monetary jurisdiction of the Court increased from $3,000 to $5,000
Development: 

The Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador acts in the capacity of the Small Claims Court, established by the Small Claims Act.

Description of Reforms: 

The Court hears civil actions where the monetary value claimed does not exceed $5,000, the lowest limit in Canada. Prior to 2005, the monetary jurisdiction of the Court was $3,000.

The Court has jurisdiction over actions concerning debt, whether payable in money or otherwise, claims for damages, including damages for breach of contract and actions for unpaid municipal taxes. The Court has no jurisdiction over actions where

  • land title is brought into question;
  • validity of a devise, bequest, or limitation is disputed;
  • malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, defamation, criminal conversation, breach of promise of marriage;
  • action against a judge of a court, a justice or a public officer for anything done by such a person in the course of performing the duties of his or her office.
Actions are commenced in Small Claims Court by filing a Statement of Claim and paying the appropriate fee. A successful plaintiff will usually receive back the fee as part of the Court Costs as part of a judgment. In a Civil action, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (claimant) to prove his or her case on a balance of probabilities. This is to be contrasted with a criminal case where the burden of proof is on the Crown to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Before the case is set for trial, our Rules require that the plaintiff and defendant attend a Settlement Conference to see if there is any hope of settling the case without the need for a trial. Even if the parties do not agree to a settlement, the conference is useful as it allows the parties to isolate the issues in question and potentially shorten the length of the trial.

The forms and procedures are designed to assist self represented litigants present their cases on their own. The cost of legal representation often exceeds the amount of a claim if a case goes to trial. Judges are cognizant of the fact that many self represented litigants are not familiar with legal rules and procedures and will make allowance within the limits of the law for these limitations. However neither the judge nor the court staff can offer legal advice to litigants.

At the conclusion of the case, the judge may deliver a decision from the Bench. Such decisions are called "oral" decisions. Alternatively, the judge may "reserve" the decision and file a written ruling at a later time. In such a case the judge usually sees the need to research a point of law. When the decision is filed the Court Clerk will notify the parties and each party will be given a copy of the decision.

A party who is dissatisfied with the result has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division) and Subsequently to the Court of Appeal and then if necessary with leave, to the Supreme Court of Canada.

 

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Oct 10, 2013:custom:F, Oct 10, 2013:custom:Y.