In small claims court, you can sue for money or the return of personal property valued at $25,000 or less, not including interest and costs.
To sue a person or business in small claims court, your lawsuit, called a claim, must fall into one of the two following categories:
- Claims for money owed under an agreement, such as,
- unpaid accounts for goods or services sold and delivered
- unpaid loans
- unpaid rent
- NSF (non-sufficient funds) cheques
2. Claims for damages, such as,
- property damage
- clothes damaged by a dry cleaner
- personal injuries
- breach of contract
If you want to sue for more than $25,000, you will have to take your case to the Superior Court of Justice (“civil court”).
How to sue in small claims court
Prepare a Plaintiff’s Claim
The Plaintiff’s Claim is the document you must complete to start a small claim against a person or business. This form will be filed with the court as well as delivered to each of the people or businesses you are suing.
- Make sure you have the facts. You will need to write a short, clear summary of the events that took place and the reasons you think you are entitled to money or property.
You need to know the legal name and address of the person or business you are suing to prepare and serve your claim, and to enforce a judgment if you are successful.
Businesses registered in the past five years can be found using Service Ontario’s online business name search, registration and renewal service.
2. Gather your evidence. Consider what witnesses and documents (evidence) you have to support your case. If you do not have supporting documents (e.g. you entered into a verbal agreement) or witnesses, your claim may still be successful. If it is just your word against the other person’s, it may be more difficult to prove your case.
Examples of evidence to support your claim are:
- a contract
- a record of any payments
- returned cheques
- photographs of property damage
The person or business you are suing will have a chance to present their version of events when they respond to your claim.
3. Know the time limitations. There may be a limit on how long you can wait before making a claim. In most cases, a claim can’t be filed if more than two years has passed since the incident. If you’re not sure what limitation period applies to your case, you should consult a paralegal.
4. Use the above information to complete your Plaintiff’s Claim form. This is the document you will serve (deliver) to the defendant(s).
Choose a filing method
You can file your small claim online, in-person or by mail.
You can file a small claim and pay court fees online.
What you need to file online:
- a ServiceOntario account
- a Visa, MasterCard, or Interac debit card
- the legal name of the person or business you’re suing
- the current residential or business address of the person or business you’re suing
- the reason you’re making the claim (what happened)
- documents scanned and saved (as DOC, DOCX, PDF, TIF or JPG) that support your claim, such as unpaid invoices)
- the rate of interest on the money owed to you (35% per year maximum when filing online).