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I'm being sued by someone in Small Claims Court. What should I do?

Get help from lawyers available on CanLaw. You have many options open to you Just askWHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BEING SUED.


If you have money problems, bad credit or debts you are not paying, your

creditors can and probably will sue you to recover the money that you owe.

Here is what happens when a creditor sues you and gets a small claims court judgment against you. Creditors can make you pay the judgment and co

Here is what happens when a creditor sues you and gets a small claims court judgment against you. Creditors can make you pay the judgment and costs in full.

When a creditor sues you

If a creditor is trying to collect $50,000 or less, the case will be probably be heard in the local Small Claims Court.

You will receive a Statement of Claim

The creditor or a process server will deliver (serve) the claim in person to you or to an adult resident of your household. Don't try and pretend you were not served or try to avoid service If you try, the courts will order that you can be served by ordinary mail or some other method.

The Statement of Claim will tell you who is suing you, why they are suing, and for how much money they are suing you. It will also include brief instructions on how you must respond.

If you ignore the claim and do not respond, the court will order judgment against you automatically

You Will Be Compelled to Pay if Your Lose

After the court awards a judgment to a creditor, the creditor can take several steps to get the money that you owe:

Obtain a Judgment Debtor exam. You will be required to attend a court hearing with all your financial documents.

The creditor can question you on why you have not paid and make you reveal where your money is so they can issue a garnishee of your wages or bank accounts or accounts receivable and collect the money.

They can register a writ of enforcement with the Personal Property Registry which puts a claim on your property. When you sell, you will have to clear the claim by paying it

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Do not ignore the claim. It will not go away


Take action. If you don't take action, your creditor will get a default judgment from the court. Then you will not have the chance to negotiate or to present your side of the story.


There are three actions that you can take:


1. Negotiate a settlement

Contact your creditor if you haven't already done so. You may be able to negotiate a payment plan that you can handle. If you and your creditor agree to a plan, the creditor should

immediately inform the Civil Division of Provincial Court in writing that the matter has been settled.

2. Pay the claim.

You can pay the claim and related costs to the court, or directly to the creditor or his representative. Make sure you get a receipt. The court will only accept payment by cash, certified

cheque or money order. You will not have to appear before a judge if you choose this action.

3. File a defence.

The court documents you were served will tell you how many days you have to file a defence. It is around 20, but varies by province.


You can find how to file a defence, the help you need and the correct forms are listed on the  CanLaw Small Clams court pages. Click here


If you do not file a defence the court will award the creditor with a judgment against you.

4. What happens next?


Once you file a defence the court will hold a settlement conference and advise you of the date.


If a settlement is reached that ends the matter.


If no settlement is reached, the creditor must request a trial.


If you don't appear in court on the day of the trial, the creditor may still get a judgment against you in the full amount.


For more information please consult the CanLaw Guide to Small Claims Courts click here




If you are not making your monthly payments, are maxed out on your credit cards and loans, you have serious money problems.


You have a bad credit rating with Trans Union and Equifax. Your credit score will be bad and this could lead to employment problems and worse.


This CanLaw section provides you with many potential solutions to help you get out of debt.

Yes, you can represent yourself

 in any small claims court. Most people do.


You can certainly retain a lawyer or paralegal to represent you. However the relatively small amount of money being claimed by the creditor usually does not justify the expense of hiring a lawyer.

Small Claims Court costs and legal expenses awards are very small and will not cover the cost of a lawyer or paralegal.

If the creditor is trying to collect over $25,000,the case will be heard in a higher court where you should get a lawyer. You can always represent yourself in any court in Canada, but that is not always wise

The court will award a judgment to the creditor if the judge decides that the creditor's claim is valid.

This judgment is enforceable for 10 years and it can be renewed. Interest is calculated from the date of the judgment.

While a judgment issued in one province can only be enforced in that province, a creditor may transfer the judgment to other provinces. So even if you move to another province, a creditor could pursue you to collect a judgment debt.

A judgment is forever - - even after it is paid


A judgment appears on your credit record and will lower your credit rating and credit score.


Even after you pay the debt, the judgment record will remain on your credit record for several years.


Businesses may not be willing to give you credit if you have a judgment on your record.

Small claims courts handle amounts up to $50,000 quickly and cheaply, so you probably will be sued
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