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Do I need to proceed to trial if the Defence has no chance at success?

One of my recent blogs discussed small claims court Ontario motions in general. Let’s discuss today Rules of the Small Claims Court Rule 12.02 motion.

This motion is only to be used to strike out or dismiss a Plaintiff’s Claim, Defendant’s Claim or a Defence, where it is plain and obvious that the claim or defence has no chance at success at trial.

Rule 12.02 states:

“12.02 (1) The court may, on motion, strike out or amend all or part of any document that,

(a) discloses no reasonable cause of action or defence;

(b) may delay or make it difficult to have a fair trial; or

(c) is inflammatory, a waste of time, a nuisance or an abuse of the court’s process.  O. Reg. 78/06, s. 26.

(2) In connection with an order striking out or amending a document under subrule (1), the court may do one or more of the following:

  1. In the case of a claim, order that the action be stayed or dismissed.
  2. In the case of a defence, strike out the defence and grant judgment.

2.1 In the case of a motion, order that the motion be stayed or dismissed.

  1. Impose such terms as are just. O. Reg. 78/06, s. 26; Reg. 44/14, s. 11 (2).”

One way the courts determine whether it is plain and obvious that a claim or defence cannot succeed at trial is to look at a Plaintiff’s Claim for example and ask themselves, if I accept everything written in the Plaintiff’s Claim as true and proven, is it possible for the Plaintiff to succeed?

There is some good case law to rely on if bringing this type of motion. Have your Paralegal Ontario look up the case law and rely on it at the hearing.

If a claim or a defence is struck out/dismissed at this motion this can be considered a final order of the court. Normally, the limit on costs a motion judge can award is minimal.

However, if a Rule 12.02 motion order is a final determination of the case, the court has the power to order substantially more costs. See my blog on costs http://www.civilparalegal.com/if-hire-a-paralegal-will-i-get-the-costs-i-pay-to-you-awarded-to-me-by-the-small-claims-court-ontario/ or consult with your paralegal.

We should see more of these motions at the Toronto Small Claims Court, Richmond Hill Small Claims Court, and the Brampton Small Claims Court in the future.

If you need representation on a Rule 12.02 motion or any other small claims court matter contact Marshall Yarmus of Civil Litigations at 416-229-1479 or www.CivilParalegal.com

Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent

Many landlords decide to represent themselves on a non-payment of rent applications at the Landlord Tenant Board Ontario (LTB) as they believe it is easy. A lot of the time it is easy. However, it can become incredibly complex. Most of the time you will have no advanced notice of issues the tenant will raise to make your non-payment of rent application complex.

An L1 application is filed at the LTB to obtain a judgment and evict a tenant. This is preceded by a N4 notice served on the tenant.

If the N4 notice contains certain errors the board member may decline to give you an eviction order. Errors such as a missing apt number, improper termination date, math errors, and failing to properly state the start and end of a month or other term may mean no eviction order.

Section 82 of the RTA allows a tenant to raise any issue on a non-payment of application which they could raise if they brought their own application. The kicker is they are not required to give the landlord any advance notice of their intention to raise these issues.

Issues which a tenant can raise without notice to you include: alleging the landlord collected an illegal deposit or fee, harassment, illegal entry, interfering with the tenant’s reasonable enjoyment, and maintenance issues.

A skilled paralegal Ontario may be able to deal with these issues without notice. Self-represented landlords usually don’t have the skills, knowledge of the statue and case law, or the understanding of the process to properly oppose the tenant’s section 82 issues.

Most self-represented landlords are unaware or don’t take into account the effect of section 83 of the RTA seriously.

Section 83 requires the board to consider all the circumstances in deciding whether it would be unfair to delay or deny an eviction

Even if the landlord proves that rent is owed the board still has the power to delay or deny an eviction. If the tenant proves certain circumstances exist the board must deny an eviction.

At an L1 non-payment of rent application the tenant can try to work out a deal with the landlord to enter into a payment plan to pay off the rent owing.

Many self-represented landlords are unaware that if they refuse to enter into a reasonable payment plan, the board may impose a payment plan on the landlord.

Paralegals know how to properly deal with these situations. Many self-represented landlords do not know what to say to the board member regarding these issues. How to evict a tenant in Ontario is not as easy as some landlords believe.

If you need representation on a non-payment of rent application, contact Marshall Yarmus at Civil Litigations at www.CivilParalegal.com or call 416-229-1479

Sample Letter to new Minister of Housing Steve Clark

Another paralegal Ontario has posted a “sample letter” recommending that landlords who are unsatisfied with the Residential Tenancies Act and the landlord tenant board Ontario write to the new PC Minister of Housing, Steve Clark using his template.

I share many of the views of Harry Fine. Here is the link to his blog which you can copy and paste:

http://landlord-law-ontario.blogspot.com/2018/07/sample-letter-to-new-minister-of.html

 

Small Claims Court Ontario Motion to Set-Aside Default Judgment

A motion is a special hearing in small claims court where any party can request a specific order.

The most common orders sought at a motion are: to set aside a default judgment, set aside noting in default, terminate enforcement action, file a defence, strike out a claim or defence that has no merit, to extend a deadline to do something, to file a Defendant’s Claim.

Every motion starts with the party requesting the order to fill out the Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit form. This is issued by the court. You will be given a date and time for the hearing to take place.

The party who is requesting the order is called the Moving Party.

This Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit must be served on every Plaintiff and Defendant in the action. This includes serving it on a party that has been noted in default. That means it must be served on a Defendant even if they did not file a Defence and the Plaintiff had filed documents with the court asked that the Defendant be noted in default.
The party that is served with the Notice of Motion is called the Responding Party. They may serve and file an Affidavit in Response to Motion.

 

If an Affidavit in Response to Motion is served and filed, the person who initially brought the motion called the Moving Party, has one final opportunity to provide an affidavit replying to the Affidavit in Response. This is called a Supplementary Affidavit.

The facts that the judge will consider at a Motion Hearing are limited to the affidavit evidence contained in the Moving Party’s Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit , the Responding Party’s Affidavit in Response to Motion, and Moving party’s Supplementary Affidavit.

The judge will also consider the law, including any rules of the court and case law provided by the parties or their paralegal Ontario.

Check the court’s rules for information on how a motion is to be served, when the Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit, Affidavit in Response, and Supplementary Affidavit  must be served and filed with the court.

Let’s address the most common type of motion the court hears: a motion to set aside default judgment.

Small Claims Court Rule 11.06 deals with a motion to set aside a default judgment. The rule states:

“Setting Aside Noting of Default by Court on Motion

11.06 The court may set aside the noting in default or default judgment against a party and any step that has been taken to enforce the judgment, on such terms as are just, if the party makes a motion to set aside and the court is satisfied that,

(a) the party has a meritorious defence and a reasonable explanation for the default; and

(b) the motion is made as soon as is reasonably possible in all the circumstances.  O. Reg. 78/06, s. 24”.

 

This blog will not be addressing the huge amounts of case law regarding the tests to set aside default judgment. If you search case law you will find cases that discuss:

  • how rigidly the judge should apply the three part test
  • there are other tests not mentioned in the Small Claims Court Rules that a judge can consider
  • what is considered a meritorious defence
  • can the court consider a lower standard  then a meritorious defence, and
  • situations where the court must ignore the tests and automatically set-aside the default judgment

 

Do your case law research or hire a paralegal Ontario to represent you.

Note that Small Claims Court Rule 11.06 states that a default judgment may be set aside a default judgment “on such terms as are just.”

What does that mean? The court could order a Defendant to pay costs the Plaintiff to partially compensate the Plaintiff for their inconvenience and expense.

The “such terms as are just,” could also mean the judge will order the Defendant to be pay money into court to be held as security pending the outcome of the trial or settlement.

A judge can also order costs of the motion itself. A Plaintiff may be ordered to pay costs of the motion to the Defendant for opposing a motion that should not have been opposed.

The philosophy of the small claims Ontario is that of Natural Justice. Every case should be tried on its merits, whenever possible. The courts want cases decided based on hearing the evidence of every party.

This means that the overwhelming majority of motions to set aside default judgment will be granted. Often the only issue for the court to decide is the “such terms as are just.”

The court will decide what, if any, order to make regarding costs or security to be paid into court.

Knowing that most default judgments will be set aside I take steps my competitors don’t to minimize the likelihood of the Defendant ever filing a motion to set aside.

I rarely appear in motions court for my Plaintiff clients who have hired me to do everything from the start.

See details on my website.

My philosophy is simple. Why waste my client’s money and time. Knowing that motions to set aside will be granted, I don’t know why some representatives rush to the courthouse to sign default judgment.
If you require representation at a motion, or any other small claims court proceeding, contact Marshall Yarmus of Civil Litigations. www.CivilParalegal.com or call 416-229-1479

How much does it cost to hire a paralegal to evict a tenant?

Our office hears that question a lot. The answer is always “It depends.”
What is your legal reason to evict the tenant? A tenancy that is governed by the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act can only end if the tenant decides to vacate or the landlord has a legal reason to evict the tenant. The landlord must obtain an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board, and file the order with the sheriff.

The legal reasons used most often by landlords to evict a tenant include;

  • the tenant is seriously interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of another tenant or is interfering the landlords lawful rights and privileges,
  • the tenant has committed an illegal act on the premises
  • Non-payment of rent
  • the tenant has damaged the property
  • the tenant has seriously impaired the safety of another person
  • the tenant is persistently late in paying rent
  • the landlord or an immediate member of the landlord’s family in good faith plans to move into the apartment for at least a year,
  • the purchaser of a property or a member of their immediate family plans to move in
  • The landlord needs to make major repairs to the unit which requires vacant possession and a building permit

 

Non-payment of rent accounts for two thirds of all the applications filed with the landlord tenant board Ontario.

Some of the above reasons for bringing an application to the board can be done at any time. Some can only be done at the end of the rental period. If there is a written lease term still in effect some of these options only become available at the end of the lease period.
Every landlord’s eviction starts with an initial notice give to the tenant. You must use the official notices from the Landlord and Tenant Board. There are different notices for every possible eviction application.

The notice must be filled out properly and completely. Many self represented landlords make errors filing out these notices.

Errors such as failing to provide a unit number, filling in dates incorrectly, using the wrong termination date, and not providing enough details of the problem, can deem the notice void. No eviction can flow from an initial notice that the board member finds is void.

I recommend that every landlord, unless they are experienced preparing these notices, hire a paralegal Ontario to prepare the notices.

If you make a mistake completing the notice and the application is dismissed as a result, it
may delay eviction by months. That could cost you thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, damages to the apartment, or delay the closing of a sale as the new purchaser cannot move in as planned.

Every Ontario paralegal is required to carry insurance to protect you. If a paralegal make a mistake their insurance covers them for up one million dollars per claim.

How to evict a tenant in Ontario can be difficult. Without a properly trained Ontario paralegal on your side you may learn some expensive and time consuming lessons.

Your time is valuable. In certain types of evictions your attendance at the hearing is not necessary if you have a paralegal in your side.

Need help to evict a tenant? Our firm, Civil Litigations, would be happy to represent you. Contact Marshall Yarmus at 416-229-1479 or visit our website at www.CivilParalegal.com

If hire a paralegal will I get the costs I pay to you awarded to me by the small claims court Ontario?

This office receives this question almost daily from litigants at the Toronto Small Claims Court, Richmond Hill Small Claims Court and other courts.

Costs are usually awarded to the successful party at a trial. Cost awards are in the discretion of the judge, and are subject to the Courts of Justice Act and the Small Claims Court Rules.
The winning party at a trial who is represented by a paralegal, a lawyer, or a student-at-law, may be entitled to a representation fee intended to partially cover their legal fees.

In most cases the representation fee is capped at 15% of the amount of the Plaintiff’s Claim or the Defendant’s Claim.

Costs are always in the discretion of the judge to award or not under all the circumstances. The Courts of Justice Act, the Small Claims Court Rules, and case law provide judges with guidance on the costs to be awarded. There is no minimum costs that must be awarded.

The general rule is that an award of costs at trial in the Small Claims Court, other than disbursements, shall not exceed 15 per cent of the amount claimed. That 15% of the amount of the claim cost award contemplated in the Courts of Justice Act and the Small Claims Court Rules can be increased if the court considers it necessary in the interests of justice to penalize a party or a party’s representative for unreasonable behavior in the proceeding.

Offers to settle properly made under rule 14.07 may attract double cost consequences of failure to accept.
If you hire a paralegal Ontario to represent you at trial where the amount claimed is $25,000.00, you may be entitled to a representation fee of 15% of $25,000.00 being $3,750.00.

If you make an offer to settle in accordance with Rule 14.07 and are successful at trial that $3,750.00 may be doubled to $7,500.00 in costs awarded in your favour.

Contrast that with costs awarded to a self-represented party at trial who may be awarded a limit of $500.00 for inconvenience and expense.

The winning party at a trial also usually gets their allowable out of pocket disbursements added to the judgment. This includes court fees, process serving capped at $60.00 per person served, and sometimes travel expenses, postage, and photocopies.

If you have paid a paralegal or a lawyer to prepare your Plaintiff’s Claim or Defence or Defendant’s Claim you may be awarded  a $100.00 preparation fee.

If you are requesting costs you will need to cite the specific act, rule, or the case law that allows for it.
This is meant to be general information on cost awards that the small claims court may award. This is not intended to be legal advice.
If you need help with costs awards or anything else dealing with a small claims Ontario proceeding, we would be honored to help you. Contact Marshall Yarmus of Civil Litigations at 416-229-1479 or visit our website at www.CivilParalegal.com

How can an Ontario paralegal help you?

At Civil Litigations we are experts at small claims court representation and landlord and tenant board representation. We choose to focus only on these areas of the law as we have since 1996.

Paralegal Ontario Canada are licensed and regulated by the Law Society of Ontario. It was formerly known as the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The paralegal rules of conduct and the by-laws are mirror images of the strict rules which lawyers operate under.

However, a lawyer in Ontario can provide virtually any legal service a client wants. Paralegals have a very limited scope of services we can offer.

The services Ontario paralegals are permitted to offer include:

1. Representing in the small claims court, provincial offences court, criminal court (for cases where the maximum penalty is six months in jail.)

2. Representing at provincial tribunals, boards and commissions such as the landlord and tenant board, human rights tribunal of Ontario, the labour board, social assistance tribunal, workplace safety and insurance board, the license appeal tribunal.

3. Representing  at federal tribunals, boards, and commissions such as the social security tribunal, transportation appeal tribunal of Canada, national parole board, and the immigration and refugee board.

4.Preparing all paperwork and representing an individual with Statutory Accident Benefits claim. These are claims against your own insurance company related to minor injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident.

We cannot do everything regarding the above courts, tribunals, and boards. We can only deal with a case where these is a hearing to take place, or a prospective hearing.

Note I am not using the confusing language the Law Society of Ontario uses in their by-law 4, section 6(1)(2). You can find the by-law on the Law Society’s website. If there is a discrepancy between my plain language explanation and the language of the by-law, the by-law prevails.

In the courts and tribunal listed above a paralegal may only:

1  Determine what forms need to be completed, fill out the forms, and appear as a representative at any hearing.

2. Provide legal advise on a case that has been filed, is about to be filed, or where a party is contemplating initiating or defending a case before one of these courts or tribunals.

  1. Negotiate a party’s interest in a proceeding.It is important to note that a paralegal may only prepare forms to be used in a hearing before a court or tribunal.There are immigration documents that can be completed and filed. These documents will not necessarily lead to a hearing before the immigration and refugee board. A paralegal is not permitted to prepare these documents. A paralegal may appear as a representative before the immigration and refugee board, but no prepare certain documents for filing.Ontario now has a standardized lease that that must be used for any new residential tenancies entered into after April 30, 2018. A landlord is permitted to attach an appendix with additional conditions to the standard lease.

    The lease may someday be used in a hearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board. A paralegal is not permitted to prepare the lease, or the appendix with additional terms, or advise what additional terms should be included in the lease as this will not necessarily lead to a hearing.

    I have attempted to make a confusing by-law understandable.

If you lack experience with small claims court Ontario  or the landlord tenant board Ontario we can help. Contact Marshall Yarmus (phone 416-229-1479 www.Civilparalegal.com) to represent you at in your small claims court case or landlord and tenant board matter.

Look to another paralegal firm to help you in any matter which a paralegal is permitted to provide to the public.

The Art of Cross-Examination for Small Claims Ontario and the Landlord Tenant Board Ontario

I have called cross-examination an art. Others call it a science. Either way to do it properly takes years of practice. After twenty-two years in business I am still learning new techniques.

Your ability or that of your Ontario paralegal to ask questions of the opposing side’s witnesses can be the difference between winning or losing your case.

Cross-examination is a tool that is only as good as the person wielding it. An experienced paralegal knows how to ask questions to obtain the answers helpful to their client.

The self-represented party who has little or no experience in court often does not know about the amount of preparation necessary to be good cross-examiner. They don’t know the skills necessary to elicit the answers needed.

Before we go further you must know the purposes of cross-examination. This tool is used to poke holes in the evidence of the opposing side’s witness. It is also used to gain admissions from the opposing side’s witnesses that strengthen your case.

Cross-examination is used in small claims court Ontario and the landlord and tenant board. It is also used in other courts and tribunals.

Do you need to ask questions of every opposing witness? No. The less seasoned legal representatives may feel pressure to ask questions of every witness. There is no need to cross-examine a witness that has not said anything to harm your case, and who has nothing to offer that would help your case.

Another novice problem I see is asking one too many questions. Though a carefully planned series of questions you may get a witness to admit an important fact. All can be lost if you ask one more question then necessary which allows the witness to say something that destroys your case.

How do you get the opposing side’s witnesses to admit facts favorable to your case? How do you ask questions based on documents? How do you use cross-examination to show a witness is not credible and should not be believed by the court or tribunal? How do you deal with a difficult to control witness?
There are many goods books that you can read to find answers to these questions. I recommend “Cross-Examination: Science and Techniques, 3rd edition.” However, there is no substitute for experience.

If you lack experience in cross-examining witnesses, we can help. Contact Marshall Yarmus (phone 416-229-1479 www.Civilparalegal.com) to represent you at your small claims court trial or landlord and tenant board hearing.

Suing a Contractor is often Complicated

It is that that time of the year when our paralegal office gets calls from home owners looking to sue contractors who have done work around their home. The small claims court Ontario deals with many of these types of cases. Often these cases start out easy, and become complicated before reaching trial.

There are many variations to this type of claim. Sometimes there is a written contract setting out exactly what the contractor is to do, and how they are to be paid. Too often though, there is poorly written contract or no contract at all. Sometimes there are just e-mail exchanges giving a vague idea what the contractor is hired to do.

If you want the contractor to do things that were not part of the original signed contract, be sure to sign “add on agreements,” which clearly state what the extra work to be done is and how much it will cost.

Contractors, unlike paralegals and lawyers, don’t have a tough regulator like the Law Society of Ontario. Ontario paralegals are required us to put all client money in a trust account until work is completed and an invoice issued and delivered.

Disputes that I see in the Toronto small claims court, Richmond Hill small claims court, Brampton small claims courts court, and others include the contractor just abandoning the job part way through. This is especially the case when the contractor is paid a large portion of the job upfront.

Did the contract do the work negligently? Do you need another contractor to redo the work? Before you hire another contractor to redo work, obtain legal advice immediately. You may need an independent expert’s report. Paying another contractor to fix the negligent work your original contractor may forever destroy evidence necessary to properly prove your case in court.

At trial you need an experienced paralegal ontario. Some of the issues I see at trials involving a contractor include: whether the proper party or parties have been to sued, disputes about the work the contractor was hired to do, what was the contract price?, the amount paid, what work was done and what was not done, whether certain work was done negligently, the cost to redo work, were there ad ons necessary or agreed to,  a Defendant’s Claim (if any) and minimizing damages.

We have been representing home owners in small claims court since 1996. Contact Marshall Yarmus of Civil Litigations at 416-229-1479 or visit our website at www.CivilParalegal.com

 

How to evict a tenant in Ontario for “Own Use”

In Ontario, an N12 form is given to a tenant when the landlord or the landlord’s spouse or child requires the rental unit for their own full time residence for at least one year.

The form is also used when a purchaser or the purchaser’s immediate family member requires the rental unit for their own use. This blog focuses on a landlord requiring the unit for their own use. Although some requirements are the same for a purchasers own use application, some are not.

The termination date on the N12 must be at least 60 days after the tenant is served. The termination date set out in the notice must be the last date of the rental period or the last date of a lease term. Self-represented landlords often make a mistake when choosing the date. This is especially so when rent is not payable on the first of the month.

Once the N12 is served the landlord can immediately apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order. An L2 application is used.

These “own use” applications are often hotly contested. This can be the start of a long heated battle.

It is in both the landlord’s and tenant’s best interest to hire an experienced licensed paralegal ontario to represent them.

Do not ask landlord tenant board ontario staff for legal advice. They are trained in forms and procedures. They are not trained in the law.

The person who plans to move in must swear out an affidavit stating that they, “in good faith” intend to reside in the apartment for at least a year. Self-represented landlords often fill out the affidavit incorrectly.

The landlord must pay the tenant the equivalent of one months’ rent as compensation for bringing this application.  This must be paid before the termination date set out in the N12 notice. The landlord must prove this money was paid.

Should the landlord or the family member who plans to move in testify at the hearing? Can an eviction be delayed or denied even if the landlord proves they “in good faith” require the apartment for their own use? Is it now easier for a former tenant to sue their former landlord if they moved out due to receiving an N12 notice which was given in bad faith?

You need an expert to represent and guide you through the process. At Civil Litigations we are experts who have been in business since 1996. Call us at 416-229-1479 or use the appointment tab on our website,  www.CivilParalegal.com to book a 30 minute free consultation