Provincial small claims court pilot
Starting in November 2007, provincial small claims court processes at the Vancouver Robson Square and Richmond small claims courts will change. As part of a pilot project, all claims filed at the Robson Square court registry will be handled as outlined below. Claims up to $5,000 filed at the Richmond court registry (except personal injury) will use the simplified trial process. These changes form part of a joint justice reform initiative of the Provincial Court and the provincial government.
Simplified trials for claims up to $5,000 – Robson Square and Richmond Rule 9.1
A simplified trial is a one-hour streamlined trial before an experienced lawyer who is a justice of the peace, and also is called an adjudicator. At Robson Square, all claims up to $5,000, except financial debt claims under Rule 9.2 (see below) and personal injury claims, will be set for simplified trials during the evening. At Richmond, all claims up to $5,000 (except personal injury) will be set for simplified trials during business hours.
Each party must file a trial statement (form 33) at the registry at least 14 days before the simplified trial and serve it on each of the other parties at least seven (7) days before the simplified trial. The trial statement must include a statement of facts in date order (the order in which the events occurred), a calculation of the amount claimed, copies of the relevant documents, and a list of witnesses with a brief summary of what each witness will say.
Summary trial for financial debt – Robson Square Rule 9.2
A summary trial is a half-hour streamlined trial before a judge for financial debt claims. All financial debt claims at Robson Square will be set for summary trial. Financial debt claims are those where the claimant is in the business of lending money or extending credit. The debt must arise from a loan or extension of credit in the course of that business.
Each party must file any contracts, statements of account, proofs of payment or other documents on which they rely at least 14 days before the summary trial and serve copies on each of the other parties at least seven (7) days before the summary trial.
Mediation of claims for more than $5,000 – Robson Square Rule 7.4
At Robson Square all cases above $5,000 and up to $25,000, except for financial debt claims under Rule 9.2, and all personal injury cases will be referred to a two-hour mediation session. Mediators will be assigned at no cost to the parties by the BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society.
For personal injury cases, Rule 7.4 provides that the certificate of readiness and independent medical examination provisions apply to mediations.
Trial conference – Robson Square Rule 7.5
A trial conference is a half-hour conference with a judge that takes place before a case proceeds to trial at Robson Square. A trial conference is held for cases exempted from mediation or that are not settled at mediation.
Each party must file a trial statement (form 33) at the registry 14 days before the trial conference and serve it on each of the other parties seven (7) days before the trial conference. The trial statement must include a statement of facts in date order (the order in which the events occurred), a calculation of the amount claimed, copies of relevant documents, and a list of witnesses with a brief summary of what each witness will say.
At the trial conference, a judge will review the claim and determine the amount of time required for trial. The judge may also make other orders for the hearing of the trial, decide on any issues that do not require evidence, dismiss claims which are without reasonable grounds or an abuse of the court’s process, or give a non-binding opinion on the probable outcome of the trial.
Is this pilot project being evaluated?
Yes. Starting in the fall 2008 and into early 2009, a research firm will conduct a telephone survey of some of the parties who have gone through small claims court. No identifying information will be used in the survey report.
Although participation in the survey is optional, the evaluation will be very important in determining whether the changes to the small claims process will be used or modified in other parts of the province. It will be helpful, therefore, if you can take the time to provide feedback if contacted through the survey.
For more information refer to the Small Claims Rules, or contact the Robson Square small claims court registry
Telephone: 604 660-8989 Facsimile (fax): 604 660-7095
the Richmond small claims court registry
Telephone: 604 660-6549 Facsimile (fax): 604 660-1797
Information about the Robson and Richmond pilots is available on the Justice Education Society of BC site.