New Year, New Rules: Changes in Smalls Claim Court

Old City Hall Toronto courthouse

In October, the Ontario government announced that they would be raising the claim limit for Smalls Claim Court from $25,000 to $35,000 in the New Year.  This is part of an access to justice initiative to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for people and businesses to resolve their disputes in front of a judge.

Currently, all claims that exceed $25,000 must seek redress through the Superior Court of Justice— one of the busiest courts in Canada.  By increasing the Smalls Claim Court claim limit, more litigants will be able to bring their disputes to a court where cases are often resolved in less than a year, and where the use of less expensive legal representation such as paralegals, law students, and self-representation is available.  This will also help free up the Superior Court of Justice to focus on more pressing family and criminal law cases as more civil cases are diverted to Small Claims Court.

Along with this change also comes the increase in the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  Additionally, litigants who started a claim in the Superior Court can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court if the claim falls within the monetary threshold.

Legislation Responsible:

O. Reg 343/19 was the regulation responsible for amending O.Reg 626/00, Small Claims Court Jurisdiction and Appeal Limit (regulation under the Courts of Justice Act) to change the maximum claim amount from $25,000 to $35,000.  It also increased the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  O.Reg 343/19 comes into force on January 1, 2020.