You need to go to court because someone owes you money, injured you, or caused damage to your property. How do you know whether your lawsuit should be brought in Small Claims? Choosing the correct court depends on several factors, including the dollar amount at stake and the subject matter of your claim.
Consider the dollar value of your claim
In BC, lawsuits can be brought in Supreme Court, Provincial Court, or the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Small Claims Court is the civil law division of BC’s Provincial Court. Where you bring your lawsuit depends on the dollar value of your claim:
- Most claims for $5,000 or less are dealt with through BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (though there are exceptions depending on the complexity and subject matter of your claim).
- If your claim is worth between $5,000 and $35,000, you can sue in Small Claims Court.
- You can bring a claim in BC Supreme Court for any dollar amount. Generally speaking, claims worth more than $35,000 should be started in BC Supreme Court. This is because there can be costs consequences for a successful litigant if their claim is resolved for a dollar amount that falls within the Small Claims jurisdiction.
While there are clear monetary limits to the Small Claims Court’s jurisdiction, there are further considerations when making the decision on where to bring your lawsuit. For example, in some cases, it may be advantageous to voluntarily abandon the portion of the claim over $35,000 so that you can bring your claim in Small Claims Court, which is designed to be quicker and less costly than Supreme Court litigation. Each case is unique, so the best course of action is get practical advice from a lawyer.
Small Claims Court can only hear certain types of claims
BC Small Claims Court is one of “limited jurisdiction” which means that it only has the power to deal with certain types of civil law matters. Small Claims Court has the authority to decide claims involving debt, damages, recovery of personal property, and some types of contracts. Other claims must be brought in BC Supreme Court, regardless of the dollar value at stake, such as:
- Claims involving an interest in land (real property);
- Claims involving wills and estates;
- Applications for an order for divorce;
- Actions in defamation, whether libel and slander;
- Malicious prosecution claims;
- Claims against the federal government; and
- Most builders’ lien claims.
If you want to know whether your legal dispute is right for small claims, lawyers at Invicta Law are here to review your case and discuss your options. Contact us today for advice on the most effective way resolve your legal dispute.