May 2nd, 2017
British Columbia’s Attorney General recently announced significant changes to the Provincial Court. Starting June 1, 2017, the Provincial Court’s jurisdiction for small claims cases will increase from $25,000 to $35,000. With few exceptions, the “Small Claims Court” will also no longer hear cases with claims less than $5000, which will thereafter be resolved in BC’s new online Civil Resolution Tribunal or “CRT”.
If you have commenced an action for less than $35,000 in either Supreme or Small Claims courts, it is important to be aware of the pending changes as they could affect your claim. If you currently have a claim for between $25,000 and $35,000, your case will proceed in the Supreme Court unless one of the parties applies to a Supreme Court judge or master to transfer it to Small Claims Court. If you had previously filed in Small Claims Court for $25,000, starting June 1, 2017, you will be able to change your Notice of Claim or Reply to increase the amount of your claim or counterclaim to up to $35,000. However, as per the Small Claims Rules, you will be required to notify the other party(ies) of any amendment to your claim. The Small Claims Court will continue to deal with all cases of up to $5,000 that have been filed before June 1, 2017.
Following June 1, 2017, the Small Claims Rules will continue to set out the Small Claims Court’s practice and procedure. Claimants will be able to commence most actions up to $35,000 in Small Claims Court. Further, claimants seeking damages greater than $35,000 may abandon part of the claim (exceeding the $35,000 limit), in order to take advantage of Small Claims Court’s simplified procedures and lower cost. Additionally, the Small Claims Rules allows actions started in Small Claims Court to be transferred to the Supreme Court, if the monetary outcome of the claim ends up exceeding $35,000 (not including interest and expenses). However, the Small Claims Court will still not have jurisdiction in a claim for libel, slander or malicious prosecution; and will not have any authority to provide a remedy that affects any interest in land.
Campbell Froh May & Rice LLP has considerable experience dealing with small claims disputes. This includes debt claims, contract disputes, and recovery of personal property, not exceeding $35,000 exclusive of interest and expense. Call us if you need assistance commencing or defending against a small claims action today.
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