More than just “Small Claims” – the new Provincial Court Civil
It’s an unfortunate reality that legal disputes can be costly to resolve, and lawyers fees can be significant. Not every case can justify hiring a lawyer. Alberta’s Provincial Court Civil can be an excellent option for cases that do not involve large sums of money or complex issues.
Once know as “small claims court”, the current Provincial Court Civil has been updated and overhauled to become easier to navigate without a lawyer, to handle a variety of cases, and to reach resolution more quickly.
Here are some of the features of Provincial Court Civil that aren’t well known:
Higher limit: Provincial Court Civil can take cases of up $50,000.
Easy to use forms: The Provincial Court Civil website ( https://albertacourts.ca/pc/areas-of-law/civil/forms ) has forms for various legal documents that can be completed online. The form for a Civil Claim – the document that starts a lawsuit – allows the user to pick from common types of lawsuits, such as car accident, amount owing for providing services, a debt claim, wrongful dismissal, return of a damage deposit, among others – and the form will then prompt for the required information for that type of lawsuit. The form has been well designed and makes it easy to create a legally correct document.
Options for resolution: after a lawsuit is started in Provincial Court, it is reviewed by court staff who determine if the case seems right for an alternative method of resolving the dispute. Provincial Court offers mediations with trained mediators who can help resolve some contested disputes. For straightforward claims, such as loans, or car accidents with only property damage, the court can direct a simplified trial.
In a simplified trial, the parties file a statement of their version of events in advance along with supporting documents, and then hold a streamlined trial for the judge to ask any questions. These trials are much shorter than a regular trial so there is much less waiting for a court date. The Provincial Court also has a process for Binding Judicial Dispute Resolution.
This process – which the parties have to agree to use – allows the parties to meet with a judge to attempt to settle their dispute, but if they cannot agree, the judge will make a decision. If the judge decides the case, there is no appeal, which provides powerful motivation for all parties to assist.
Despite these improvements, there are still some types of cases that the Provincial Court cannot handle. These include builders’ liens, foreclosure, defamation, and some other exceptions.
Hendrix Law lawyers are happy to discuss your case with you to evaluate whether handling your own case in Provincial Court Civil is a good fit.