The Civil Claims Process
Most of our clients are very interested in the actual Court process. It is impossible to answer all of our customers questions due to time limitations. Many situations are much more complex than they appear on the surface and are beyond the control of the client or agent. We can however provide for you here a brief overview of the Small Claims Court process and our client services.
Preparation and Service of your Civil Claim
Draft, file, issue and serve the civil claim on the Defendant or Defendants, the Defendant has a fixed period of time to respond based on the method of service by filing a Dispute note and or Counter claim. The time difference varies depending on whether they are in the same jurisdiction or outside the Calgary or Alberta jurisdiction and method of service.
Preparation for Defendants
If you are being sued we will draft and file your Dispute Note and or counter claim within the time limits set by the Court.
If Defendant does not file a Dispute Note
If the Defendant does not respond a we will prepare and file an Application for a Default Judgment or note the Defendant in Default and request the Court schedule an Assessment Hearing. This may require additional paperwork including the drafting of an Affidavit in support of the Application. Once we obtain a Certificate of Judgment we proceed to the Enforcement of the Judgment.
If the Defendant files a Dispute Note the Court will notify the parties as to whether the matter is scheduled for a mediation or a pretrial conference.
If the matter is sent to mediation we will attend with you and assist you to make a fair settlement. Court appointed mediators will guide both parties through the mediation process which could take up to 2 or 3 hours, mediators are provided by the Court at no charge. If the parties are unable to make an agreement a trial date will be provided.
Cases that go to mediation are settled and resolved at mediation. If the claim is not settled a Pretrial Conference will then be scheduled.
If the matter is set for a pretrial conference we will attend with you. The parties will be required to exchange their evidence prior to the conference. The pretrial conference is held in a private room with a Judge who will ask questions of both parties in order to determine the issues in dispute, the number of witnesses and the length of the trial, the Judge may also urge the parties to consider a settlement. If the matter is to proceed to trial the Judge will issue an order instructing both parties as to their responsibilities and any deadlines for production of documents or evidence. The conference may last between 30 to 60 minutes.
We will prepare your evidence and disclose it to the other party. We will also prepare you for trial and serve and prepare any witnesses who are able to support your claim. Depending on the complexity of the matter and the number of witnesses the hearing may last a couple of hours or a couple of days.
A Trial Hearing is normally the conclusion of the Small Claims Court process. We will prepare the presentation of your claim, conduct the Examination in Chief (question witnesses including you) introduce documentary evidence where and when required and cross examine the Defendant’s witnesses. Finally we provide the trial Judge with an oral summation at the conclusion of the hearing.
The Judge will make a ruling on the Civil Claim and decide on the amount of the Judgment. After a ruling we will make submissions on the costs we are seeking for our client, costs include filing and service fees and party to party costs vary depending on factors including the length of the trial.
Enforcement of Judgment
Upon receipt of a Certificate of Judgment, if the Defendant still refuses to pay, we will transfer your file to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and commence enforcement of your Judgment. After filing and registering a Writ of Enforcement we will take any steps necessary, including wage or bank garnishee summons’, filing the Writ against the title of the Defendant’s property and if required refer you to a Bailiff who can seize the Defendant’s property (land, vehicles or other assets), and sell it to satisfy the Judgment. A Judgment is enforceable for up to 10 years, and can be renewed for a further 10 years.