A Settlement Conference is the most important hearing in a small claims court action

In my opinion the Settlement Conference is the most important hearing in a small claims court Ontario. This statement applies whether you settle or not.

The Rules of the Small Claims Court outline the many purposes to a settlement conference. They include:

“13.03 (1) The purposes of a settlement conference are,

(a) to resolve or narrow the issues in the action;

(b) to expedite the disposition of the action;

(c) to encourage settlement of the action;

(d) to assist the parties in effective preparation for trial; and

(e) to provide full disclosure between the parties of the relevant facts and evidence.  O. Reg. 78/06, s. 27.”

 

This is the hearing where many self-represented litigants learn that if the case goes to trial it will take hours, a day, or multiple days for the trial to be heard. It is best to hire a paralegal Ontario to deal with your case.

Reasons why a settlement conference is the most important hearing in a small claims court case:

You can request that a judge at a settlement conference make many different orders. A judge is permitted to make orders including: adding or deleting parties, staying the action, amending or striking out a claim or defense, staying or dismissing a claim, directing production of documents, changing the place of trial, directing an additional settlement conference, and ordering costs. (See Small Claims Court Rules 13.05(1)(2))

The settlement conference is the place you and your legal representative can learn more about your opponent’s case. Discussions at a settlement conference usually include specifics of matters only touched upon in the pleadings. A good legal representative will use what they hear at a settlement conference to help them in trial preparation.

Listen to the opposing side. Try to see the case from their point of view. A good legal representative tries to see the case from their opponent’s point of view. This helps them better assess the strengths and weaknesses of their client’s case.

The judge at a settlement conference may make suggestions to both sides regarding what they can do to better prepare for trial. (See Small Claims Court Rule 13.03(1)(d))

This is the only hearing where you have a chance early in a small claims court proceeding to try to settle the case, before you spend a lot of time and money preparing for trial.

The settlement conference judge may give an opinion on who they think will be successful at trial, and why. Although, there will be a different judge if the matter proceeds to trial, it is valuable to hear a judge’s opinion.

Can the settlement conference judge make a final and binding decision on who wins and looses without a formal trial? Yes – provided Small Claims Court Rule 13.05(4) applies. If the amount of the claim(s) is less than the appealable limit (currently $2,500.00), and prior to the commencement of the settlement conference all the parties sign a consent (form 13B) indicating they wish to obtain a final determination of the matter at the settlement conference if a settlement cannot be reached.

Most Defendants who settle the case pay the agreed upon settlement amount. In most cases where a judge decides a case at trial, the Defendant does not voluntarily make payment to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff who wins at trial often has to spend more money and time enforcing their judgment. It has been said that sometimes the worst thing that can happen for a Plaintiff is they go to trial and obtain a judgment.

You may win at trial. The opposing side may appeal. Although appeals of Small Claims Court decisions are not common, they do happen. An appeal is outside the scope of services a paralegal is trained and permitted to represent. It can be very expensive to hire a lawyer to fight an appeal.

Trials are very stressful. A good settlement allows both parties to walk away a little unhappy.

You may not have the evidence necessary to be successful at trial. Though you may have a strong case, you may be missing the important witness, photo, receipt, estimate, or an expert’s report to be successful at trial.

You may need an independent expert’s report or an expert witness at trial. They are not cheap. If you are self-represented you may not even be aware you need an expert to be successful at trial.

It is difficult to get witnesses to voluntarily attend trial. People may say they will be witnesses at trial now, but their mind might change closer to a trial date. Their are drawbacks to issuing summons to witnesses.

Need representation at Settlement Conference or any stage of a small claims court proceeding, Hire Marshall Yarmus, of Civil Litigations. He is an expert at small claims court proceedings. He is seen most often at Toronto Small Claims Court, Richmond Hill Small Claims Court, and Brampton Small Claims Court. Call 416-229-1479 or visit our website at www.CivilParalegal.com

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

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.

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

Paralegals able to help during court matters

Individuals and businesses use the small claims court to sue for money owed for a wide variety of reasons where the amount owing is $25,000 or less. The court also has the power to order return of property not exceeding that value.

The government just announced starting a new court action can now be done online for all types of claims province-wide, through a secure government website.

The Ontario government wants to make the court more accessible, by offering this new online filing service. However, just because it is easier to file documents doesn’t mean the small claims court procedures are easy to navigate.

Many people attempt to represent themselves in the small claims court. They have that ‘do it yourself’ attitude. They mistakenly believe the small claims court is like American courtroom reality television. Nothing can be further from the truth. Forms must be filed correctly. Procedures must be followed. A trial in Ontario looks nothing like television.

Court staff can give you general information procedures on how to complete forms, but they are not supposed to give legal advice.

This doesn’t stop people from asking court staff for legal advice when the case becomes complicated. A staff member may even give advice which they shouldn’t. Since court staff are not legally trained, the advice given, although well meaning, may be wrong. Unless the person gets professional legal advice the error may prove costly.

When your case becomes complicated, or you need someone who has knowledge of the rules of the court, the evidence and witnesses needed, and the particular law concerning the facts of your case you should turn to a licensed paralegal or a lawyer.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America where a paralegal is a trained and educated professional, who is licensed, insured, and regulated. Paralegals are authorized to provide legal services directly to the public. A paralegal in Ontario can represent you with your legal matter by offering you legal advice, filling out forms, and representing you at trial in certain courts (including small claims court) and tribunals.

The small claims court process starts out by completing and issuing a Plaintiff’s Claim. The party being sued must file a defense with the court within 20 days of service. If this is done, the matter will be scheduled for a settlement conference before a judge or a mediator. This, in my opinion, is the most important hearing. Selfrepresented litigants may not recognize its significance.

A judge at a settlement conference has the power to make a number of orders, including dismissing a claim which has no merit, and to order the opposing side to produce documents which helps your case. If you don’t know to ask the judge to make a specific order, this may hurt your case.

The settlement conference is a great opportunity to allow the parties to come to an agreement on their own. It is a much better outcome than having a trial judge impose a decision. You could go to trial and get an order the other side owes you money. It is then up to you to collect through the process available through the court.

If the case is not settled, you will end up at trial. Here, you must present your case to the judge in an organized and understandable manner. Licensed paralegals and lawyers who specialize in small claims court representation know how to prepare a case for trial. They know how to question the opposing side’s witnesses. Cases are often won or lost based on this skill which can take years to learn properly.

Do you have a general question about small claims court procedures? Fax or e-mail your questions to info@getlegal-resultsca 1-877-931-1011. The best questions will be answered in the next edition of this article.

Do’s and don’ts of small claims court

Is small claims court now too complicated for the average person to represent himself or herself? Many people’s only interaction with the civil courts in Ontario will be through small claims court. Currently you can sue for money damages of up to $25,000 or the return of personal property not exceeding that amount. Ontario small claims court bears no resemblance to American television shows. The judge does not take an active role in questioning witnesses. You do.

Cases can be won or lost based on your ability to effectively question the opposing side’s witnesses. Small claims court is far less complicated than the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. But that may be of little comfort to the litigant who is trying to go through the steps of bringing an action to trial, obtain judgment and successfully collect their money. At the courthouse, many people can be seen clutching court forms, trying to navigate their way through the system. The court clerks can only give general information on procedures, not legal advice.

When cases become too complicated, people and companies often hire a licensed paralegal or a lawyer to represent them. They are the experts at navigating this mine field.

At the first hearing of a defended claim, the parties meet in front of a deputy judge or mediator to try to settle the case. At this settlement conference judges sometimes urge a person with a complicated case to hire a paralegal or lawyer. Trials are measured in hours, a day, or multiple days. The formal procedures for hearing evidence, marking documents as exhibits and questioning witnesses take far longer than what is seen on so-called reality court television shows.

Dr. Julie Macfarlane released a report on self-represented litigants in 2013.In it she found, unsurprisingly, that the majority of litigants who decide to self-represent do so because they cannot afford representation. Another reason for people self-representing was that they were attracted to the do-it-yourself approach. Many believed they could handle the case themselves because so much information was available on the Internet.

But a losing party at trial has more to worry about than paying the opposing side’s representation fee. A self-represented party can lose a case in large part due to not knowing how to properly present it to the judge. This requires calling the necessary witnesses, asking them the right questions, knowing what to ask witnesses appearing for the other side, presenting the relevant documents and summarizing the law and the facts to the judge.

Many people know they can hire a lawyer but many don’t know licensed paralegals can represent them in small claims court.

Those who choose to self-represent against a seasoned paralegal or lawyer are at a severe disadvantage. Many people think success in small claims is easier than the reality.After almost every trial there is one party who is unhappy. Settlement should be encouraged at every stage of the action.

The problem is not the court system. The rules and procedures are there to make sure the process is fair. But litigants need to understand that when a case becomes too complicated to represent themselves, they should hire a legal professional. Finally, the smartest and happiest litigants are usually those who compromise and come to a settlement before trial.

January 7, 2016  Copied from http://torontosun.com/2016/01/07/dos-and-donts-of-small-claims-court/wcm/a3946a31-7e95-44c7-aa5a-faba31f407ee