Consolidated Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding the Small Claims Court

March 16, 2020; last amended October 5, 2021

NOTE: All hearing materials, including pleadings and any supporting documentation, must generally be filed with the Court and ALSO emailed to the Court at least 3 days before the hearing. Failure to email the materials may result in the Court making an order against you, including costs.

Parties are encouraged to use the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal or the Small Claims Court Submissions Online portal to file forms and documents online without going to court, where possible. For more information on filing documents online, please see section 12 (Filing) below.

Since the suspension of sittings of the Ontario Small Claims Court in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court has progressively expanded the matters that it will hear remotely.

The Small Claims Court will continue to monitor the situation and, as possible, will further expand the types of matters and hearings that will be heard during these extraordinary times.

Important: Please note that hearings will only be scheduled if a request for a hearing is submitted in accordance with the instructions below.

Notice of amendments

  • Effective October 5, 2021:
    • This notice reminds parties that, after they file their hearing materials, they must also email them to the Court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are a few exceptions. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information.
  • Effective July 23, 2021:
    • The Court is scheduling dates in Small Claims Court trials. Section 8 (Trial Dates) has been updated.
    • The Court is scheduling terms of payment hearings. Please see section 9 (Terms of Payment Hearings).
    • Section 12 (Filing) reminds claimants to file all documents that their claims are based on.
    • Section 15 explains that the Small Claims Court is not dismissing actions for delay until further notice.
    • Other sections have been clarified.

1. Assistance with Small Claims Court Matters

If you require legal advice on a Small Claims Court issue, you may seek assistance through Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline (1-855-255-7256).

2. Remote Hearing Platform and Etiquette

All hearings will be conducted over Zoom, a videoconferencing platform, unless a party indicates that they are unable to participate by Zoom. The Court will make the arrangements for Zoom and will advise the parties of the connection arrangements.

A device with a camera and a microphone (e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop), plus access to WiFi/an internet connection, will be required for participation by video conferencing.

Where a party is unable to participate by Zoom, the hearing may be conducted by use of a teleconference line.

Hearing participants should have an appropriate technical set-up and observe etiquette appropriate to the nature of remote hearings. Some guidance on these points can be found here on the Superior Court of Justice website.

3. Urgent Matters

The Small Claims Court will continue to hear urgent matters during the COVID-19 emergency period. These will be heard by telephone or videoconference. Urgent matters may include:

  1. Cases in which a judgment debtor has an outstanding warrant for arrest issued in relation to a Small Claims Court proceeding; or
  2. Time-sensitive cases that would result in immediate and serious financial hardship if there were no hearing.

If you require legal advice in seeking an urgent hearing, you may seek assistance through Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline (1-855-255-7256).

To request an urgent hearing, please email your notice of motion and supporting affidavit (Form 15A) to the email address for the Small Claims Court location where the action is based. Please indicate in your email to court staff that the matter is urgent. Your email must comply with the requirements in sections 12.3, 12.4 and section 12.5 (Communicating with Court Staff by Email) below.

After filing, please wait for court staff to contact you (or your representative, if you have one) to:

  • obtain a contact email address, if you did not already provide one; and
  • provide:
    • the hearing date, time and coordinates; and
    • a document with instructions for responding parties (if applicable).

If your request is for a motion on notice, then you must follow the steps set out in sections 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 of this notice once court staff provide you with the hearing date.

All documents to be filed for the urgent hearing shall be filed in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

4. Settlement Conferences

The Court will schedule a settlement conference in an action after the first defence is filed. Please note that the Court is prioritizing the scheduling of settlement conferences in actions where the first defence was filed before April 12, 2021. Court staff might not be able to provide a date immediately.

You do not need to take any action to have a settlement conference scheduled. Court staff will contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff about your settlement conference.

Court staff will be contacting the parties and representatives individually by telephone to collect email addresses where one has not already been provided.

Due to high volume, it may take some time before court staff contact you about your settlement conference, even if all parties and representatives have already provided email addresses.

For information on how to file materials, please see section 12 (Filing) of this Notice.

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your settlement conference materials to the court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are limited situations where you do not need to do this. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information.

5. Motions on Notice to Other Parties

The Court is accepting requests to schedule motions on notice. Examples of these motions include: motions to set aside a noting in default or a default judgment, motions to strike out or amend a document and motions for a consolidation order.

If your motion was scheduled for a date before March 16, 2020, you do not need to take any action. The court staff will contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff about your settlement conference

Steps to seek a motion on notice

5.1 Filing notice of motion and supporting affidavit

You must file your notice of motion and supporting affidavit (Form 15A) in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

You do not need to put the date, time or hearing coordinates on the Form 15A before you file it. Court staff will give you this information later.

After filing, please wait for court staff to contact you (or your representative, if you have one) to:

  • obtain a contact email address (if one has not yet been provided); and
  • provide a motion date, time and hearing coordinates, and a document with instructions (provided by court staff) for responding parties.

Due to a high volume of requests, it may take some time before court staff contact you (or your representative) about your motion. Court staff might not be able to provide a date immediately. Once all required materials are filed, you do not need to take any action to have a motion on notice scheduled. Court staff will contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff about your motion.

If your motion is urgent, please email your Form 15A to the email address for the Small Claims Court location where the action is based. Please indicate in your email to court staff that the motion is urgent. Your email must comply with sections 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5 (Email Filing Format, Naming Documents and Communicating with Court Staff by Email) below.

5.2 Serve responding parties

After court staff give you the hearing information and document with instructions for responding parties, you must serve:

  • the notice of motion and supporting affidavit (Form 15A), providing the hearing date and details, in accordance with the Rules of the Small Claims Court; and
  • the document with instructions (provided by court staff) for responding parties.

5.3 File proof of service

You must then file

  • proof of service and
  • the notice of motion and supporting affidavit (Form 15A) that you served on the responding party

in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

A responding party may:

  • serve a responding affidavit (Form 15B) in accordance with the Rules of the Small Claims Court; and
  • file it, and proof of service, in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

If a responding party is filing a responding affidavit less than five days before the motion date, then they should file it as described in section 12 (Filing) below.

5.4 Serve and file any supplementary affidavits

In response to a responding affidavit, the moving party may:

  • serve a supplementary affidavit (Form 15B) in accordance with the Rules of the Small Claims Court; and
  • file it, and proof of service, in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

If a moving party is filing a supplementary affidavit less than five days before the motion date, then they should file it as described in section 12 (Filing) below.

Emailing motion materials to the Court

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your motion materials to the court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are limited situations where you are not required to do this. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information about this.

6. Motions in Writing without Notice

The Court will be addressing motions in writing without notice to any other party, which include motions in writing for an assessment of damages, for substituted service, for validation of prior service and for other relief.

To request a motion in writing without notice, you must file the notice of motion and supporting affidavits (Form 15A) with the Court. The motion materials must include the claim and affidavit(s) of service of the claim.

The materials must be filed in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

If you have already filed your motion in writing, then you do not need to do anything further until court staff contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff.

Please note that the Court is prioritizing motions in writing without notice that were filed before April 12, 2021.

Due to high volume, it may take some time before court staff contact you or your representative about your motion in writing, even if an email address was already provided.

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your motion materials to the court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are limited situations where you are not required to do this. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information about this.

7. Requests to Clerk for an Assessment Hearing

The Court will be scheduling assessment hearings where a request to clerk (Form 9B) is filed.

For information on how to file, please see section 12 (Filing).

If you have already filed a request to clerk to schedule an assessment hearing (Form 9B), then you do not need to do anything to ​schedule a date until court staff contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff about your hearing.

Please note that the Court is prioritizing the scheduling of assessment hearings requested before April 12, 2021. Court staff might not be able to provide a date immediately.

The court staff will be contacting you (or your representative, if you have one) by telephone to collect a contact email address where one has not already been provided.

Due to high volume, it may take some time before court staff contact you or your representative about your assessment hearing, even if an email address was already provided.

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your Form 9B to the court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are limited situations where you are not required to do this. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information about this.

8. Trial Dates

The Court will schedule a date for trial where a request to clerk (Form 9B) is filed. The Court is also rescheduling dates in Small Claims Court trials that ​had started but were interrupted when in-person operations were suspended in March 2020.

For information on how to file, please see section 12 (Filing).

If you have already filed a request to clerk to schedule a trial date, then you do not need to do anything to ​schedule a date until court staff contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff about your trial.

Please note that the Court is prioritizing the trials that have been waiting the longest. The hearing of trial dates will be by videoconference.

The court staff will be contacting you (or your representative, if you have one) by telephone to collect a contact email address where one has not already been provided.

Due to high volume, it may take some time before court staff contact you about your trial date.

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your documents to the court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are limited situations where you are not required to do this. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information about this.

9. Terms of Payment Hearings

The Court will schedule a date for a terms of payment hearing where a request to clerk (Form 9B) is filed. For information on how to file, please see section 12 (Filing).

If you have already filed a request to clerk for a terms of payment hearing, you do not need to do anything else to schedule a hearing date. Court staff will contact you. Please remain courteous when interacting with court staff about your hearing.

The court staff will be contacting you (or your representative, if you have one) by telephone to collect a contact email address where one has not already been provided.

Due to high volume, it may take some time before court staff contact you about your hearing date. The Court is prioritizing the terms of payment requests that have been waiting the longest.

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your Form 9B to the court at least 3 days before the hearing. There are limited situations where you are not required to do this. See section 13 (Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes) for more information about this.

10. Reopening of Counter Service in Small Claims Court

The Ministry of the Attorney General advises that counter services at Small Claims Court locations continue to be offered from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m, until further notice.

Counsel/representatives and parties are discouraged from physically attending courthouses to file documents in person. The Court strongly encourages anyone wishing to file a Small Claims Court document to do so electronically. Court documents can be filed in accordance with section 12 (Filing) below.

If you require legal advice to assist you in filing a claim, you may seek assistance through Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline (1-855-255-7256).

11. Unsworn Affidavits

Where a judge authorizes a party to email materials to the court for an urgent hearing and it is not possible to email a sworn affidavit, unsworn affidavits will be accepted on the condition that a sworn affidavit is provided prior to the hearing or the person is available at the hearing to swear or affirm of the affidavit.

12. Filing

12.1 Plaintiff’s claims and documents in support of default judgment

Most plaintiff’s claims can be filed online through the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal. You can learn more about the portal at: www.ontario.ca/page/file-small-claims-online/.

If you are amending your plaintiff’s claim but have not served it yet, then you may also file your amended plaintiff’s claim through this portal.

Please include all documents that your claim is based on. If you are filing an amended claim, and the claim is based partly or entirely on a document you have not already filed, please file that document with your amended claim. If the document is unavailable, the claim must state why the document is not included.

If the plaintiff’s claim was issued through this portal, and none of the defendants file a defence in the action, then the plaintiff can also file these documents through the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service portal to seek default judgment:

  • Affidavit of service (Form 8A) of the claim;
  • Request to clerk (Form 9B) to:
    • note a defendant in default; or
    • seek an assessment hearing;
  • Affidavit for jurisdiction (Form 11A);
  • Default judgment (Form 11B);
  • Notice of motion and supporting affidavit (Form 15A) requesting a motion in writing for an assessment of damages;
  • Any documents relevant to this motion; or
  • Notice of discontinued claim (Form 11.3A).

The document naming convention protocol in section 12.4 (Naming Documents) does not apply to documents filed through this portal. Instead, the following requirements apply:

  • File names may only contain letters and numbers. A file name and its extension (e.g. “.pdf” or “.jpg”) combined must be 30 characters or less.
  • The document name must indicate the following information:
    • Document type (e.g. “plaintiff’s claim” or “PC”);
    • Name of the party submitting the document, and
    • Date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DDMMMYYYY (e.g. 13MAR2021).

Below are sample document names:

  • PC Johnson 13MAR2021.pdf
  • SchedA Acme 13MAR2021.jpg

12.2 Other documents

12.2.1 Documents for hearings more than 5 business days away

The Ministry of the Attorney General advises that most other Small Claims Court documents can be filed through the Small Claims Court Submissions Online portal. You can learn more about the portal at: www.ontario.ca/page/file-small-claims-online. You cannot submit a plaintiff’s claim through this portal unless you have, or wish to apply for, a fee waiver certificate. Please see the portal for a list of documents that can be filed there.

Documents must be named in accordance with section 12.4 (Naming Documents) below, and must be in searchable PDF format. The portal will only accept documents smaller than 10 MB.

12.2.2 Documents for hearings 5 business days away or less

You cannot submit documents using Small Claims Court Submissions Online:

  • for a court date that is five business days away or fewer (for example, if your court date is on Tuesday, February 9, you cannot submit documents online after Monday, February 1); or
  • if you are legally required to submit documents by a deadline that is five business days away or fewer.

If your court date or submission deadline is five days or fewer away, the Small Claims Court will accept the documents by e-mail at the specific e-mail addresses indicated on the Email Accounts for Small Claims Court Locations page. See sections 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5 (Email Filing Format, Naming Documents and Communicating with Court Staff by Email) below for more information on email filing requirements.

Where representatives and parties deliver materials by email, subject to direction from the Court, they undertake to file the same materials in paper format, and pay the requisite filing fee, at the court when regular court operations resume.

Where a document may not be accepted online or by email, parties are encouraged to file by mail. In-person attendance at a courthouse is strongly discouraged unless it is absolutely necessary.

12.3 Email Filing Format

Emailed filings must be submitted in searchable PDF format, ensuring each document is a separate attachment.

To file by email a prescribed form (available at www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca) that must be signed, you may do either of the following:

  • Apply an electronic signature to a .DOC version of the form, convert the form to PDF then submit the PDF file; or
  • Print the form, sign it manually, scan it then submit it as a PDF.

Any photographs must be submitted in PDF format.

Each email sent to the court, including attachments, must not exceed 35 MB.

Unless a matter is proceeding ex parte (i.e. without notice to responding parties), filed materials must indicate when and how service on responding parties was made (i.e. affidavit of service).

12.4 Naming Documents

NOTE: This section does not apply to plaintiff’s claims or amended plaintiff’s claims that are filed through the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service Portal. Please see section 12.1 for information on naming those documents.

When documents are submitted to the Small Claims Court in electronic format, the document name must indicate the following information:

  • Document type;
  • Type of party or person submitting the document (e.g. plaintiff, defendant, moving party, litigation guardian);
  • Name of the party submitting the document (including initials if the name is not unique to the case); and
  • Date on which the document was created or signed, in the format DD-MMM-YYYY (e.g. 12-JAN-2021).

Below are sample document names:

Notice of Motion – Moving Party – Acme Inc. – 13-MAR-2021

Settlement Conference Request Form – Plaintiff – A. Smith – 21-NOV-2021

Consent to Act as Litigation Guardian – Litigation Guardian – B. Williams – 12-JAN-2021

Affidavit – Responding Party – XYZ Ltd. – 5-MAY-2021

12.5 Communicating with Court Staff by Email

The below direction should be followed when communicating by email with court staff:

I. To ensure the email is received and processed by the appropriate court office, the subject line should include the following information:

  • LEVEL OF COURT (SCC)
  • TYPE OF MATTER
  • FILE NUMBER (indicate NEW if no court file number exists)
  • TYPE OF DOCUMENT (e.g., Defence, Notice of Discontinued Claim, etc.)

II. The body of the email should include the following information if applicable:

  • court file number (if it is an existing file)
  • short title of proceeding
  • list of documents attached (note: attachments cannot exceed 35 MB)
  • type of request (filing or hearing request)
  • name, role (i.e. lawyer/representative, party, etc.,) and contact information (i.e. email address) of all parties.

12.6 Filing Fees

Parties and representatives filing documents using the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service or the Small Claims Court Submissions Online portals can pay the applicable filing fees through those portals.

Where parties and representatives deliver materials by email, they undertake to file the same materials in paper format, and pay the requisite filing fee, at the court counter when regular court operations resume.

13. Emailing Documents for Hearing Purposes (required in most cases)

In addition to filing, you must ALSO email your hearing materials to the court at least 3 days before the hearing, unless:

  • You have not filed materials yet AND your hearing is 5 business days away or less. (If these are both true, see section 12.2.2 to find out what to do.).
  • The Rules of the Small Claims Court or a court order allows you to file your materials less than 3 days before the hearing.

Please send the materials to the email address for the Small Claims Court location where the action is based.

If you filed materials in person, and you need help emailing them to the Court, you can ask court staff to scan the materials and provide the electronic copies to the Court.

The Court may make a costs order against you if you do not email your materials, or ask court staff to provide materials filed in person, to the Court at least 3 days before the hearing.

14. Public and Media Access to Small Claims Court Remote Hearings

Any member of the media or the public who wishes to hear/observe a remote proceeding may email their request to the Small Claims Court location in advance of the hearing (email addresses for each location can be found here). The person requesting access should advise of the hearing they wish to hear/observe, and their contact information. Every effort will be made to provide the requestor with information on how they may hear/observe the proceeding.

Certain proceedings are closed to the media and public by legislation or court order.

Section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act restricts the recording of court hearings.

15. Dismissals for Delay – Suspended Until Further Notice

Until further notice, the Small Claims Court is not dismissing actions for delay under Rule 11.1 of the Rules of the Small Claims Court.

16. More Information

The Ontario Small Claims Court continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation. As circumstances permit, the Court will gradually resume regular operations and reschedule matters.

You may wish to also consult the Ministry of Health’s website at Ontario.ca/coronavirus for further information on how to protect yourself.

While the Ontario Small Claims Court is an important source of timely access to justice in Ontario, the health and safety of those who use and work in the Small Claims Court is our priority.

Thank you very much for your understanding and co-operation during this extraordinary time.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey B. Morawetz
Chief Justice
Superior Court of Justice

Revised: March 16, 2020; May 4, 2020; June 2, 2020; August 10, 2020; August 26, 2020; October 8, 2020; October 28, 2020; November 30, 2020; January 11, 2021; January 14, 2021; January 26, 2021; February 23, 2021; March 15, 2021; April 12, 2021; June 4, 2021; July 23, 2021; October 5, 2021.