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B.C. court launches guide to small claims court

Monday, July 15, 2019 @ 2:38 PM | By John Chunn

The British Columbia provincial court has added a Small Claims Court Guide to the popular Guide to Disputing a Ticket and Guide to preparing for a Family Court Trial currently available on its website. The new guide to preparing for small claims court uses a fictional sample problem to explain the process in B.C. small claims court for people thinking of suing someone and people being sued.

Intended to be read along with the step-by-step small claims court how-to-guides on the B.C. government website, the new guide provides additional information that may be particularly helpful to people preparing cases with complicated facts or wanting to know more about evidence. It may also help with the decision of whether to hire a lawyer or conduct your own case.

Using the example of homeowners dissatisfied with the work done by a plumbing contractor, the guide deals with topics that include: choosing the right court, watching out for time limits, knowing the rules, gathering evidence, getting witnesses to court and considering settlement realistically, to name just a few. It also explains challenging concepts like expert evidence, counterclaims and suing a third party. Sample notes and documents are included to show how a case can be prepared in an organized and effective way.

Every effort has been made to define legal terms and use plain language. B.C. Courthouse Libraries staff from around the province provided detailed comments and valuable suggestions to help make the guide as clear and easy to understand as possible.

Two guides previously published by the court have proven popular. The Guide to Disputing a Ticket has been downloaded 3,425 times in the 10 months since it was posted on the court’s website in August 2018. During the same period, the guide to preparing for a Family Court Trial was downloaded 1,232 times.

Provincial court Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie said, “The court knows that preparing and presenting a case is often a huge challenge for people. We hope we can make it easier and reduce their stress by providing these guides for the kinds of cases where people come to court without a lawyer most often. In the last 12 months our website has had over a million page views, and our small claims pages have had over 20,000, so we know there’s interest in the information we provide. We hope this new guide will be a useful addition to the information available to help people trying to resolve civil disputes.”