You don’t have to go it alone – help with Small Claims Court
-By Dustin Griffin-
Pursuing litigation in Supreme Court can be a very expensive and time consuming effort. Our firm works on the principle of being cost effective. Sometimes the cost of going to trial will outweigh the benefit of an award. For example, if someone damaged your property and it will cost $10,000.00 to repair, paying a lawyer $20,000.00 to go after the other party in court is not in your best interest. It is in these circumstances that you should consider other options.
Small Claims – The Benefits and Drawbacks
Small Claims Court is a division of the BC Provincial Court that was established to help people resolve conflicts in a quicker and more affordable manner. Small Claims Court tries to do this in a couple of ways:
- It is built for people to go it alone.
- The rules are far more relaxed.
- It is faster.
There are of course drawbacks to Small Claims Court. The big issue being the $25,000.00 award limit. If you have a claim worth $150,000.00 then Small Claims is NOT for you. But if your claim is worth less than $25,000.00 then maybe you should be going through Small Claims. But if you’re close to the limit, then there may be a benefit in giving up some of your claim.
For example, if your claim is worth $30,000.00 you might want to give up that last $5,000.00 to go it alone in Small Claims instead of paying a lawyer $10,000.00 to run the file. In the end, you’ll have more money in your pocket.
Small Claims – How Lawyers can Help
Hiring a lawyer to run a Small Claims file is often not the best option. But there can be very cost effective things a lawyer CAN do for you as you start the Small Claims process yourself.
- Take advantage of consultations.
Usually a lawyer is willing to give some time to talk about if you have a claim in the first place. We can tell you if this is something worth hiring a lawyer or if it is suitable to take it on yourself and use the Small Claims process.
- Ask for an opinion letter.
If you want to take on a Small Claims action yourself it may be helpful to you to ask a lawyer to prepare an opinion for you. This would be a letter the lawyer prepares that tells you the law and what he thinks the outcome should be based on the facts you provide. You can then use this letter to guide your submissions to the court.
You don’t have to retain a lawyer to get help. Lawyers can do what is called a “limited retainer” which is a contract to provide a very specific service such as writing a letter or conducting negotiations on your behalf. Talk to a lawyer and see what your options are to give yourself the best chance at success in court.
Contact Dustin Griffin for more information.