Anyone can be at risk one day of being caught up in a situation that involves the judicial system. Whether it’s a case of neighbourhood disturbances, civil liability or contract performance, it’s normal, in such situations, to weigh the risks and benefits of initiating legal proceedings. The analysis is that much more relevant when the amount or object claimed is of low value.
Resorting to the Small Claims Division
To promote access to justice, any claim of $15,000.00 or less is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Small Claims Division. Consequently, anyone who is interested in filing an action on an account or exercising another recourse may do so before the Small Claims Division provided the amount of the claim is equal to $15,000.00 or less. Previously limited to $7,000.00, the maximum claim amount was increased with the goal of reducing the caseload of the Court of Québec and enabling the latter division to focus on more important and more complex cases.
Whereas individuals can easily access the Small Claims Division, the situation is different for companies and corporate bodies. Indeed, for a company to be allowed to file a claim with the Small Claims Division, it must necessarily have employed a maximum of ten (10) workers over the course of the last twelve (12) months.
Moreover, it is also possible for individuals whose claims are of an amount higher than $15,000.00 to voluntarily reduce their claim to this maximum amount. Through this strategic choice, it is therefore possible to prevent the opposing party, who may be more financially solid, from retaining the services of a lawyer.
It is important to note that that is not possible for an individual filing a personal claim to be represented by a lawyer. Individuals must therefore represent themselves personally before the Small Claims Division and therefore avoid professional representation fees. Moreover, companies and corporate bodies may only be represented by a officer or employee at their service who is not a lawyer.
However, even though lawyers cannot intervene directly in cases before the Small Claims Division, it remains true that lawyers can be of great assistance in preparing for such cases. Indeed, the judicial system functions according to rules of procedure and rules of evidence that may seem complex at first glance to individuals who have never before set foot in a courtroom. The support and advice of a legal professional can therefore constitute the key factor differentiating a well-prepared case file that will convince a judge from a flawed case that is doomed from the outset.
For cases heard by the Small Claims Division, usually involving disputes of a value of $15,000 or less, Bernier Fournier provides the following services:
- Preparing legal opinions
- Drafting formal demands
- Preparing your applications
- Quantifying and qualifying damages suffered
- Preparing your defence and counterclaim
- Preparing your testimony or the testimonies of your witnesses
- Preparing your cross-examination
- Reviewing your file underway
- Conducting your case-law research
Each of these steps is associated with a flat rate that is set according to the complexity of your case, the goal being to limit your legal costs to reasonable and proportional amounts.
These steps can easily be completed in person, by phone and even by videoconference by sending your documents in PDF format or another format. Consequently, there are no geographical limits and we can provide assistance to people throughout the province of Québec.
Furthermore, once you have obtained the judgment, we can accompany you through the various steps required to have your judgment enforced and collect the sums claimed. Do not wait until it is too late and an unfavourable judgment is rendered against you.
Consult a lawyer from Bernier Fournier without delay!