How Do I Improve My Chances in Small Claims Court?
While There are No Guarantees, for the Best Likelihood of Achieving a Favourable Result, the Best Strategy is Always Thorough Preparation by Researching and Reviewing the Relevant Law and Understanding the Process Requirements.
Understanding How to Prepare Your Best Case For Success Within Small Claims Court Litigation
A legal case within the Small Claims Court is unlike the legal cases that are often portrayed on television on shows such as Judge Judy. Instead, a Small Claims Court case is conducted with formal procedural rules and a formal manner of applying the law. While this is without saying that a Small Claims Court case will be conducted with the same strict formality of legal cases in the higher court, it should be appreciated that the navigating the Small Claims Court can still be quite challenging.
For Your Best Likelihood to Succeed in Small Claims Court Be Sure:
- To learn the procedural law known as the Rules of the Small Claims Court including the proper way to complete the various official forms, the rules regarding evidence disclosure deadlines, among other things;
- To learn the rules of civility and the formal conduct required so to present oneself with the decorum expected including when to stand for the Judge, when to bow for the Judge, what to wear in court, among other things;
- To know the substantive law applicable to the case meaning the law specific to the relevant legal issues;
- To obtain the best quality evidence, such as an expert witness report, among other things, as may be applicable, as proof of the facts that must be established as per the law specific to the relevant legal issues;
- To ensure that all necessary witnesses will be prepared and in attendance and to ensure attendance by issuing a Summons to any witnesses that may be hesitant (which may be important even if the witness promises to attend);
- To learn as much as possible about the opposing parties in the case including personality characteristics that may be strengths to take heed of or weaknesses to make benefit of.
- To prepare a thorough checklist and worksheet for use at Trial so to help ensure that all critical witness questions are asked and that all evidence documents are presented;
- To stay unemotional and thereby able to remain focused on presenting the facts and avoiding of unnecessary drama;
- To avoid believing that a Small Claims Court case will be simplistic in both the procedural rules as well as in the law applicable to the issues in dispute; and
- To carefully consider experienced professional representation for assistance in organizing and preparing and as your advocate in the courtroom.
Carefully Research the Legal Principles as Applicable to Your Specific Case Issues
For an understanding of the law applicable to your specific legal issue, this Civil Litigations Paralegal Services website may be a very helpful and useful resource. Additionally, for researching specific issues, the website for the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) provides hundreds of thousands of pages of information on almost every legal topic.
For your best chance of winning in a Small Claims Court case, avoid the presumption that legal issues are treated without formality and instead appreciate that the Small Claims Court does require the following of procedural rules and the applicable law. Legal issues, and case decisions, are based upon a genuine review of the relevant evidence as both the submitted documents and spoken testimony of witnesses. It should be recognized that the procedural law as well as the substantive law applicable to the specific case issues may be, and likely are, significantly sophisticated. Of course, as in all matters, the best chance for success comes to those who are knowledgeable, are organized, are prepared, and are therefore ready for court.