What does it take to win at a small claims court trial?
As someone who has represented at probably more than a thousand small claims trials at the Toronto Small Claims Court and other small claims court ontario, I can tell you preparation is the most important thing.
Other important aspects are making sure you have all the witnesses you need, and documents necessary to prove your case. Make sure the evidence comes out through your witnesses in a logical way that the judge can follow.
Preparation starts with the writing of the Plaintiff’s Claim or Defence. You will be limited to the facts you have plead in these documents.
The most important hearing to get ready for trial is the settlement conference. You read that correctly. Settlement Conference is the most important hearing to obtain necessary orders to get ready for trial, to obtain information from the opposing side that will assist you in trial preparation.
You cannot tell the trial judge what was said at settlement conference. That does not stop you from using information you heard to help you prepare for trial.
You also need to know and be able to present to the judge what the law is. I know it is small claims court and you think the judge knows the law. You are thinking I don’t need to present statute or case law to the judge.
Maybe your case involves an area of the law the judge is very familiar with. Then again, maybe the judge isn’t familiar with the law regarding your case. The judge may not be aware of case law that helps your case. Presenting law to the judge during closing submissions can only help your case.
What else do you need to know? Some knowledge of evidence law is helpful. This is especially so if expert reports or expert witnesses are to be presented to the court. Knowledge of the small claims court rules also helps.
You will need to prepare for asking your witnesses questions. These questions cannot be leading.
You will need to prepare to ask the opposing witnesses questions. This is called cross-examination. Many cases are won or lost on the strength and experience of the person asking the cross-examination questions.
If you do not have the time, patience, or knowledge to prepare for trial I urge you to hire a paralegal ontario or a lawyer.
Our paralegal firm, Civil Litigations has 22 years experience we can help you. Our phone number is 416-229-1479. Our website is CivilParalegal.com