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Filing a Defence Form with the Small Claims Court

***UPDATE***

Effective July 1, 2014, all Defendants must not SERVE (provide) the Plaintiff with the Defence and THEN file the Defence with the Small Claims Court along with proof of service by way of swearing an Affidavit of Service.  a full discussion of how to do all this is beyond the scope of this article, but we discuss all this in my strategy session

So you’ve been served with a Plaintiff’s Claim – now what?  Well, the first thing you have to do is take note of when you were served with the Plaintiff’s Claim.  This is because under Rule 9.01 of the Rules of the Small Claims Court, a Defendant has 20 days from the date of service of the Plaintiff’s Claim to serve and file a Defence (Form 9 A) with the small claims court.

Never Overestimate How Much Time You have to File A Defence

Now, the timing of this deadline can be tricky, however.  Take the following example.  John gets served with a Plaintiff’s Claim in the Brampton Small Claims Court by the Plaintiff, Bob, on May 20, 2008 and think that he therefore has until June 10, 2008 to file his Defence.  Unbeknownst to John, Bob has filed an Affidavit of Service with the small claims court in Brampton swearing that he served John with the Plaintiff’s Claim on May 19, 2008.  After 20 days pass and John does not defend, Bob goes to the Brampton small claims court office and notes John in default (noting in default will be dealt in a future article).  John, meanwhile, thinking he has one more day, goes to the small claims court office in Brampton to file his Defence on June 10, 2008 only to be told by the small Brampton claims court staff he was noted in default the day before.

Avoid being noted in default in the Ontario small claims court.

Now, there are a few ways to avoid this problem of being noted in default in the small claims court (the subject of a future article), but the most common method is to simply go by the issue date of the Plaintiff’s Claim.  Of course, this will lessen the time you have to defend a lawsuit but that way you never have to worry about being noted in default prematurely.