BC Provincial Court’s New Small Claims Court Guide

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The BC Provincial Court has added a Small Claims Court Guide to the popular Guide to Disputing a Ticket and Guide to preparing for a Family Court trial currently available on its website. The new Guide to Preparing for Small Claims Court uses a fictional sample problem to explain the process in BC Small Claims Court for people thinking of suing someone and people being sued.

Intended to be read along with the step-by-step Small Claims How-To-Guides on the BC government website, the new Guide provides additional information that may be particularly helpful to people preparing cases with complicated facts or wanting to know more about evidence. It may also help with the decision of whether to hire a lawyer or conduct your own case.

Using the example of home owners dissatisfied with the work done by a plumbing contractor, the Guide deals with topics that include: choosing the right court, watching out for time limits, knowing the rules, gathering evidence, getting witnesses to court, and considering settlement realistically, to name just a few. It also explains challenging concepts like expert evidence, counterclaims and suing a third party. Sample notes and documents are included to show how a case can be prepared in an organized and effective way.

Every effort has been made to define legal terms and use plain language. BC Courthouse Libraries staff from around the province provided detailed comments and valuable suggestions to help make the Guide as clear and easy to understand as possible.

In addition to their helpful feedback, the librarians offered praise for the Guide, with comments like:

“Wonderful, wonderful guide that fills a real gap in what is available for people wanting to sue in Small Claims Court”
“Very clear and well written”
“Really like the use of clear headings, tables, and large font to make the document very readable”
“Excellent to have this new resource for clients, as there always needs to be more
resources on small claims”
“The detailed example of the case was very useful … I especially liked the sample documents at the end as well as the table about the facts the claimants need to prove and examples of evidence they can use to prove it. It fills in that gray area of confusion about what constitutes evidence and shows how important it is to be organized and detailed.”

Two guides previously published by the Court have proven popular. The Guide to Disputing a Ticket has been downloaded 3,425 times in the ten months since it was posted on the Court’s website in August 2018. During the same period, the Guide to preparing for a Family Court trial in Provincial Court was downloaded 1,232 times.

Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie said, “The Court knows that preparing and presenting a case is often a huge challenge for people. We hope we can make it easier and reduce their stress by providing these guides for the kinds of cases where people come to court without a lawyer most often. In the last twelve months our website has had over a million page views, and our Small Claims pages have had over 20,000, so we know there’s interest in the information we provide. We hope this new Guide will be a useful addition to the information available to help people trying to resolve civil disputes.”

See the Provincial Court of BC's Guide to Preparing for Small Claims Court.