The short answer is yes, you can represent yourself in Nova Scotia Small Claims Court. In fact, in Canada you can represent yourself all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada. However, the limit for small claims court in Nova Scotia is $25,000 so if the claim you’re involved in is approaching that amount it may be well worth your money to use the expertise of a lawyer to represent you.
The paperwork you need to start an action in small claims court is available on the Courts of Nova Scotia website. This document is called the Notice of Claim. In this document you fill out who your claim is against, how much money you are looking for and what the circumstances were that led to this situation. You then take a copy to the Small Claims Court. There is a filing fee for them to accept the document. Next you will have to take a copy of the filed documents and personally serve it on the defendant. You do not have to personally serve the document yourself. A lot of people hire a process server or have someone else deliver the documents. However, the documents do have to be delivered in person to the defendant unless they have a lawyer in which case the documents can be delivered to the lawyer.
The defendant will have 20 days to file a defense at small claims court. You will also receive a copy of the defense. While you are waiting for your trial date, which will be assigned and written on your original Notice of Claim when you file it, you should work on gathering and organizing the evidence you wish to present to the judge.
At the trial, as the claimant you will have the opportunity to present your side of the story first. You may testify directly to the judge or you may have other people appear and testify on your behalf. If there is someone you believe would be useful in supporting your claim who does not wish to appear, you can subpoena them (legally require them) to appear. As a part of the testimony either yourself or your witness’s can introduce physical evidence such as paperwork or other relevant items.
After you have presented your case the defendant will have a turn to do the same. Depending on how clearly you presented your case, the judge may have some questions.
Once the judge is satisfied that all the evidence is before the court, they will make a decision. In some cases, the judge will deliver the judgement right then from the bench. In other cases, they will “reserve” their judgement which means they want to think about it and will issue a written decision at a later date.
If you have any questions about how to represent yourself in Small Claims Court, we'd be happy to help. You can call us at (902) 826-3070 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers at our Tantallon law firm. You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.
You may also want to read our other blogs on this topic:
By Dianna M. Rievaj LLB, MBA – Managing Lawyer
The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Nothing contained on this blog is legal advice or constitutes a legal opinion. While it is our goal to provide information which is current, legislative changes and court decisions, among other matters, may result in some information no longer being current or accurate. You should consult a lawyer before relying on any information. The views expressed herein by individual contributing lawyers posting entries to the blog are solely those of the authors and should not necessarily be attributed to or considered representative of the firm of Highlander Law Group Lawyers