small claims court sign

Today the Ontario government announced that on January 1, 2020, the claim limit for Smalls Claims Court will increase from $25,000 to $35,000.

The move is intended to provide the public with quicker and more affordable Court based dispute resolution for claims up to the new $35,000 limit. The government has also indicated that claims commenced in Superior Court will be able to transfer to the Small Claims Court branch of the Court if it falls within the monetary threshold.

Lawyers should consider the impacts this impending claim limit increase may have for ongoing and potential new actions where the value is around $35,000. For instance:

(i) For actions already commenced in Superior Court: Consideration may need to be given to whether to recommend to clients to transfer the case to Small Claims Court. The transfer to Small Claims Court may depend on, for example:

  • the value of the claim
  • the stage of the proceeding
  • any strategic benefits and risks to remaining in the Simplified Process
  • the potential for costs awards for or against in Superior Court, and
  • the process and costs associated with transferring to Small Claims Court.

(ii) For potential actions not yet commenced: Where a client may have an actionable claim in the $25,000 to $35,000 range, consideration may be given to commencing the action in Small Claims Court in January 2020 rather than starting the action in Superior Court beforehand. However, if there is any potential upcoming limitation period issue or other concern caused by delaying, the action should be commenced as soon as possible in Superior Court.

In addition, the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court will also increase from $2,500 to $3,500.
practicePRO will provide further information about the new Small Claims Court claim limit increase as more information is provided.