Small claims not quick or cheap

Posted on January 2, 2013 in Child & Family Delivery System – opinion/letters – Re: Online dispute resolution takes off, Dec. 16
December 31, 2012.   Lance Soskin

In this article, Douglas Cunningham, former Superior Court associate chief justice, claimed that small claims court does such a good job resolving disputes quickly and cheaply that there is no need for alternative ways of resolving disputes.

I will hazard a guess that it has been quite some time since Mr. Cunningham has sued or been sued in small claims court since it is neither quick nor cheap for the average person. Nor is it a pleasant process.

According to statistics provided by the Ontario attorney general it takes on average 6.7 months for a case to reach a final order or disposition. You should expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars and if you place a value on your time it can be upwards of a couple thousand dollars.

If you sue in small claims court you will likely have to spend about 25 hours of your personal time on the case including attending the courthouse in-person twice or three times during business hours. That’s a lot of time off work.

The attorney general even states on their website that, “you may want to consider mediation … Mediation can be less time-consuming, more flexible, and less expensive than proceeding in court.”

If you want an idea of how complicated and time consuming small claims can be, just try figure out the rules of evidence and read the attorney general’s “Guide to Making a Claim.”

Lance SoskineQuibbly, Toronto

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