On August 10th, 2020, the Ontario Small Claims Court expanded the types of matters it will be hearing virtually. These include urgent matters, as well as settlement conferences requested by all or one party.

Urgent Matters

Urgent Smalls Claims Court matters are still being heard by telephone or videoconference.

Your matter could be considered urgent if:

  • A judgment debtor has an outstanding warrant for arrest that was issued because of your Small Claims Court proceeding, OR
  • Your case is time-sensitive and there would be immediate and serious financial hardship if you don’t have a hearing.

To get an urgent hearing, you must:

  1. Complete a request form, available on the Superior Court of Justice website.
  2. Email the completed request to urgentsmallclaims@ontario.ca.
  3. If the judge approves your request for an urgent hearing, you will get an email with the date of your hearing, details on how to attend by phone or videoconference and an email address to send all your court documents before the hearing.

Settlement Conferences

Settlement conferences are held on Zoom unless a party indicates they cannot use the platform. If a party cannot use Zoom, the hearing is done by teleconference.

The court organizing the videoconference will reach out to the parties with connection details. Using Zoom will require a device with a camera, a microphone and an internet connection.

The procedure for a settlement conference differs slightly depending on whether all parties consent to the settlement conference. The Court encourages parties to seek the consent of the other parties wherever possible.

A. If all parties agree to a settlement conference:

Your case will qualify for a settlement conference if:

  • The defendants have filed a defence or been noted in default for the matter before March 16, 2020, AND
  • All parties agree to rely solely on the pleadings already filed and served.

How to schedule a settlement conference:

  1. Submit a request form, available on the Superior Court of Justice website, to settlementconferences@ontario.ca.
  2. Make sure all parties agree to the method of hearing you choose on the form.
  3. Get every party or their representative to sign the form.

B. If only one party requests a settlement conference:

Your case will qualify for a remote settlement conference if:

  • You provide a valid and current email address for all the non-requesting parties,
  • All parties are able to send and receive emails from those email addresses,
  • The defendants have filed a defence or been noted in default for the matter before March 16, 2020,
  • All parties agree to rely solely on the pleadings already filed and served,
  • A settlement conference was scheduled but was suspended due to the pandemic,
  • A settlement conference was scheduled to take place between March 16 and March 31st, 2020 but was suspended due to the pandemic.

How to schedule a settlement conference:

  1. Submit a request form, available on the Superior Court of Justice website, to settlementconferences@ontario.ca.

If you think your small claims matter could qualify for one of these categories, speak to a civil litigation lawyer at Augustine Bater Binks LLP. Let us help you manage your claim through pandemic uncertainty.

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