Small claims court

Small Claims Court resolves issues of $25,000 or less. It's a simplified approach to settling legal disputes, and many people don't involve a lawyer. Many of the hearings are held in the evening, to make the process even more user-friendly. Contractors who have lost their case in the Supreme Court of NS, or who know they're going to lose, will occasionally try to start a case against the homeowner in Small Claims Court. Unfortunately for the contractor, that ship's already sailed.
Here are some things you can't do in Small Claims Court:
1. You can't start an action based on an issue currently before the Supreme Court.
2. You can't start an action based on an issue which you've already lost in Supreme Court.
3. You can't start an action to recover legal costs.
4. You can't enforce a lien - you can only do that in Supreme Court.
5. You can't start an action for defamation (libel or slander).
When a judge issues an Order against you which contains a phrase like ".....in the circumstances of this application, I fail to see even a glimmer of merit in any of these proposed grounds" (this actually happened although it didn't help the homeowner much), a contractor needs to reflect on the likelihood of an unsatisfactory outcome.

In short, as a crooked contractor who realizes that the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, you've shot your wad (in the original American colonial context) and your days of lying and bluffing as a plaintiff in court are over. From here on in, the homeowner calls the shots. His claim against you for damages hasn't been heard yet, nor his claim for legal costs. By now, the homeowner has a very good idea of your financial situation and knows what the chances are of collecting on upcoming judgments. If he determines that you're not going to be able to pay, it makes no sense to invest thousands to get a judgment suitable only for wallpapering. With the judge's permission, the homeowner can move the action to Small Claims Court as long as he keeps his claim below $25,000 and pays about $200 for court fees. The case is heard by an adjudicator who is usually a lawyer instead of a judge. The resultant judgment can be turned into a Enforcement Order, which gives it all the firepower of a regular Supreme Court Order. To see how the homeowner can use this document to dismember you, click here.
back to main page                       next page