Ontario Small Claims Court limits increased to $35,000
On January 1, 2020, the claim limit for Smalls Claims Court increased from $25,000 to $35,000.
The move is intended to provide the public with quicker and more affordable Court based dispute resolution for claims up to the new $35,000 limit. The government has also indicated that claims commenced in Superior Court will be able to transfer to the Small Claims Court branch of the Court if it falls within the monetary threshold.
Lawyers should consider the impacts this claim limit increase may have for ongoing and potential new actions where the value is around $35,000. For instance:
(i) For actions already commenced in Superior Court: Consideration may need to be given to whether to recommend to clients to transfer the case to Small Claims Court. The transfer to Small Claims Court may depend on, for example:
- the value of the claim
- the stage of the proceeding
- any strategic benefits and risks to remaining in the Simplified Process
- the potential for costs awards for or against in Superior Court, and
- the process and costs associated with transferring to Small Claims Court.
(ii) For potential claims over $35,000
Where a claim may be marginally over $35,000, lawyers may want to consider the benefits and drawbacks of abandoning an interest in any amount above $35,000. If abandoning any claim for higher amounts, make sure this is understood by your client. Confirm instructions related to abandoning amounts in writing. If the Small Claims Court is not appropriate given the value of the claim, consider proceeding by Simplified Procedure.
In addition, the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court increased from $2,500 to $3,500.