Small claims court max payout more than doubles to $15,000
Published Wednesday, January 7, 2015 7:59PM EST
The maximum award in Quebec’s small claims lawsuits has more than doubled as of Jan. 1, to $15,000.
The change – which brings the award up from $7,000 – is long overdue, said civil lawyer Jordan Charness, who occasionally advises clients to try their luck in small claims.
“It's about time that this limit was raised. It's pretty much the lowest in Canada. Most places in Canada, the limit is $25,000, so even reaching $15,000 hasn't reached the national norm, let's say,” he said.
Experts say that in order to win, claimants must be very well prepared, said Charness.
“We help them prepare their case. We can even sit by their side. The only thing we're not allowed to do as lawyers is do the litigation itself,” he said.
Maurice-Jacques Chacron and his wife Renee Larouche have filed a suit in small claims court.
The pair has a beef with the couple who sold them their house, claiming there were hidden defects. They figure the emergency repairs plus the inconvenience cost them $14,000.
“I would have much preferred that we could have come to an agreement, but we never felt we were in a good discussion with the defender,” said Larouche.
Hiring a lawyer wasn't cost-effective, so they lowered their initial lawsuit to $7000, allowing them to sue in small claims court, where neither side is allowed to be represented by a lawyer.
That meant the couple had to give up on a portion of their claim to meet the $7000 limit.
“It's definitely too low, it needed to be increased because of inflation,” said Chacron. “It's much better, it more reflects what prices cost today, compared to what it cost ten years ago.”
It's probably too late for Chacron and Larouche, however, who filed their suit before the change.
“We tried to expose the proof as best as we could this morning and obviously it will be up to the judge to decide,” said Chacron.