What happens at a Settlement Conference?
- If you attend a pre-trial conference you should be prepared to talk about the lawsuit and bring all the important information and documents available. If you are not prepared when you attend the conference, or if you do not show up at all, the Judge may order you to pay the other side their expenses for having to come to the pre-trial conference. If a person does not show up at the pre-trial conference, the Judge may also strike out that person’s Claim or Defence and give judgment for the other side. So it is very important to show up, or to notify the other side and the court if an emergency prevents you from attending.
- Attending a pre-trial conference will usually make the trial easier, and it may even help you settle the lawsuit. In most cases a lawsuit settles before it goes to trial because settling saves both sides the time and expense of a trial.
- For more information, legal assistance, and representation about pre-trial conferences Call Y.M. Paralegal Services at (647) 740-9855.
Offers to Settle
Most civil disputes are settled by the people involved before the lawsuit goes to trial. If you are involved in a civil dispute, you may want to try to settle the matter to save time and money. Sometimes there are rules and penalties that may apply if the lawsuit has to be decided by a judge.
What is an offer to settle?
An offer to settle usually includes a statement by the plaintiff or defendant about how they are willing to resolve the lawsuit without going to trial. An offer to settle can be made by anyone involved in a lawsuit at any time. An offer to settle can be withdrawn as long as it has not been accepted by the other side. If you make an offer to settle, and the other side accepts it, then a settlement agreement has been made. If someone makes you a reasonable offer, and you do not accept it, you may have to pay extra costs after a trial. The consequences of not settling will depend on who made the offer and whether the amount awarded by the judge is more or less than the offer.
What are the consequences if an offer to settle is turned down?
If a party makes an offer and the judge awards judgment in an amount that is as good as or better than the plaintiff’s offer, the losing party may have to pay two times the winning party’s costs of the case. If the situation is reversed, and a plaintiff does not accept a reasonable offer to settle, the plaintiff may have to pay two times the defendant’s costs of the lawsuit from the day the offer was made.
How to prepare a settlement agreement
- A legally binding settlement is best facilitated and prepared by your legal representative. Please speak to Y.M. PARALEGAL SERVICES about your legal rights and obligations. Call Our Mississauga Paralegal at (647) 740-9855
- Let us advocate for you and resolve your issue.
- Not all disputes between parties involve money or the monetary amount may be less than the costs involved to proceed through the judicial system. You can save money by resolving your disputes through mediation.
Sometimes issues can arise before or during a trial and they need to be resolved before the trial can continue. To resolve such issues, one of the parties can make a motion. A motion is a request to the Judge to make a ruling about the issue. For example, during a trial one of the parties involved may discover that somebody else might be responsible for the plaintiff’s loss and should be added to the lawsuit. That party would then bring a motion to the court and ask the Judge to allow them to serve a claim on that person. The Judge’s decision on a motion may affect how the trial continues, but it does not determine the ultimate outcome of the lawsuit.
How to bring a motion
In order to bring a motion a party has to complete a Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit. This needs to be filed and served in accordance with the Rules of the Small Claims Court. The motion you are bringing must explain why you are making the motion, and to set out the facts that support your motion. This has to be completed properly without defects prior to arguing the motion before a Judge. Self-Represented parties often make errors and it costs more time and money to make the necessary corrections. It’s highly recommended to contact Y.M. PARALEGAL SERVICES to prepare, file, serve, and argue your Motion.
What happens at court? How is the Motion Decided?
- A motion is heard before a Judge in the courtroom. Check the lists posted at the courthouse to see where your motion is being heard. At the hearing, both sides will be able to speak to the Judge about the motion. If the other side is bringing a motion and you agree with it, then say so. If you do not agree with the motion, you will have to tell the Judge what part of it you do not agree with and why. The Judge will then make a decision about the motion.
- If you feel that a serious error was made by the Judge in granting or denying a motion, it may be possible to have it reviewed. However, this can be a complicated procedure, and you should consult with Y.M. PARALEGAL SERVICES about this.
- Because Small Claims Court is intended to be fast and straightforward, you should only bring a motion if it will make a difference to the lawsuit. Before you bring a motion you should try to resolve the issue with the other side, or see if they consent to the motion without needing a hearing. The final decision will be up to the Judge.
- For more information on the procedures for bringing a motion, legal assistance or representation, please contact Y.M. PARALEGAL SERVICES directly.
- The Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice and is governed by its own set of rules which come from the Courts of Justice Act.
- As of January 1, 2020, the Small Claims Court’s monetary limit has gone up to $35,000.00. This is a $10,000.00 increase over the last 10 years. Whether you are on the winning side or not, a claim brought for $35,000.00, with interest and costs, can end up being substantially more in judgment at the end and can have an equally substantial impact on you.
- There are some cost and time-saving benefits in suing in the Small Claims Court, even if your actual claim may be higher than 35k. It is always better to consider suing in Small Claims Court rather than going to Superior Court. If you have a claim worth 40-50k or more you have to know that the legal costs in the higher court will usually be much higher than Small Claims Court. The usual time it takes in Small Claims Court for a claim from the beginning to the end is about 6 to 12 months depending on the court and the parties’ willingness to end the claim.
- The Rules of the Small Claims Court are complex and if you want things done right, you will need our experience, knowledge, and expertise to represent you.
- We will explain every step in the proceeding along the way.
- With our legal expertise, you can be sure that you can properly utilize the Small Claims Court as a mean of resolving your legal dispute relatively quickly and efficiently.
- Do not start litigation by yourself. You do not know how to properly prepare the claim, the pleadings, etc.
- The Small Claims Court staff will not give you legal advice or tell you how to prepare your forms. They are not allowed to do that.
- Your paperwork and forms prepared incorrectly can lead to problems down the road where your case can be dismissed or you will have to do complex amendments later. There is a lot of stuff that could be added to the claim you are filing or defending. This can lead to being out of time by operation of a statute of limitations as you cannot then sue again, or claim what you should have claimed.
- Do not try to argue the case in court yourself. Let us help you in this.
- The important thing to remember is that you do not have a conferred right to sue automatically, the right to sue someone for damages arises by an ‘operation of law’. In other words, you have to have a legal “cause of action” recognizable in law to sue someone in court. There are also limitation periods that you have to be careful of. We can help you with your case, call us to find out more.
- Our service includes the assessment of your small claim under 35,000.00 The process, in a nutshell, can be broken down into four steps:
- If you are suing someone you have the burden to prove your claim. We carefully and with great care prepare the law and evidence before drafting your claim. We attend the court and personally file the claim and pay the filing fees. Then, we attend to properly serve the claim upon the Defendant.
- The defence is filed by the Defendant. If the claim is defended, we review and prepare you for what the trial may involve. Note, sometimes, the Defendant can file a counter-claim against you or others. In this case, we re-assess your matter and we can help you defend yourself from against the Defendant’s claim.
- The Court schedules a Settlement Conference (Pre-Trial Hearing). All the parties must attend a settlement conference. We will prepare for and attend the Court with you to represent you at the Pre-Trial. A Pre-Trial is before a Judge of the Court and its purpose is to narrow the legal issues of your action and see if there is a possibility of settlement of the claim. If not, then the matter proceeds to trial stage, where Judge presiding will decide the case after hearing all of the evidence, law, legal submissions, and arguments.
- Trial is usually the final step in claim. We will prepare the law, the evidence, we examine your witnesses and advise you. We appear before a Judge in an Ontario courtroom where your trial will be heard and the Judge will ultimately make a Judgement. Parties, as well as their witnesses, will give their evidence, and the evidence will be cross-examined (challenged by the opposing party) and applied to the law. After a presiding Judge can either give a decision at the end of the trial or if the case is complex a Judge can reserve her decision and give it at a later date. A Trial can take anywhere from 3 hours to a couple of days in length depending on various factors. It is rare, however, for a Trial in Small Claims Court to take more than one day, but on occasion, there is not enough time to finish so the Trial is continued to another day until it is finished.
During the trial process, you are expected to know the law about your case, and you must follow the Rules of the Small Claims Court. Also, you must be aware of time limits and would have all of the documents properly served well in advance of your trial.
- If the matter is not defended, then the process moves ahead to a Trial by Assessment however you must still follow protocol and present sufficient evidence to prove your claim even if it un-defended.
- If you are being sued, you are a defendant and the process is similar to the one above, but as a defendant, we apprise you of your rights and help you forward a proper Defence to the claim, as well as represent you in court during the whole process.
- We can also assist you in the negotiation of a settlement, then you will not have to go to a Trial. However, the parties have to both be in agreement to settle and this process is really a joint effort.
- We also represent clients on Motions, Debtor Examinations, Garnishments and other procedures in the Small Claims Court. Call Our Mississauga Paralegal to find out.
- Court costs are recoverable if you win the case, however, if you are looking to recover all your costs for representation, you probably will not. We cannot stress enough that you cannot put a price on good representation, our knowledge and skills will only benefit your case and hopefully, you will be content with the results.