Starting January 1, 2020 a number of changes enacted by the Ministry of Attorney General will come into effect which will allow Plaintiffs an increase on monetary claims in select litigation proceedings.
CHANGES AT SMALL CLAIMS COURT
At present, the Small Claims Court maximum anyone can claim is $25,000. Next year, that amount will be increased to $35,000. This is very good news for anyone considering filing a claim, and especially good news for those litigants whose claims were previously just over the current limit, but not large enough to warranty an expensive claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The Courts of Justice Act permits actions to be transferred from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court. Any litigants wishing to explore this option should consider the current stage of their matter, costs incurred to date and whether oral examinations are required (which are not available in Small Claims Court). The total costs recoverable in Small Claims Court remain to be limited to 15% of the total claim, therefore transferring from Simplified Procedure may result in a loss of the total recoverable amount.
CHANGES TO SIMPLIFIED PROCEDURE (RULE 76)
The monetary limits for Rule 76 Simplified Procedure will also be increased, from the current $100,000 to $200,000. Simplified Procedure is a process which streamlines claims strictly in relation to money, real property or personal property.
The amendment has also introduced a restriction on the amount of costs that can be recovered, which are now limited to $50,000. Disbursements have been capped at $25,000, exclusive of HST. But for actions commenced before January 1, 2020 these restrictions will not apply.
The process of litigation under Simplified Procedure will also change. The time allowed for oral examinations for discovery will be increased to three hours, from the current two. Actual trials will be limited to five days, without distinction between ordinary or summary trials. This is a welcome change that will provide a more expedient resolution for litigants.
If you are looking to initiate legal action, waiting to file your claim until January 1, 2020 may be a good idea for select litigations who fall just outside the margins of the current monetary limitations. However, it is important to remember that the time limitation to file your claim is still two years from the date of breach or incident.
Anna Okorokov, Lawyer