On January 1, 2020, the Ontario provincial government introduced two significant changes to increase access to justice by simplifying the court process and reducing costs. 

These changes will have a very practical impact on how injury lawyers in eastern Ontario and across the province manage cases on behalf of clients.

The Small Claims Court

Effective January 1, 2020, the monetary jurisdiction for Small Claims Court (the “People’s Court”) actions has increased by 40% – from $25,000.00 to $35,000.00 

This is a welcome change that will increase the number of cases that can be heard by the provinces’ Deputy Judges.

This change will allow more cases to be downloaded to the Small Claims Court, allowing greater resources to be applied to more pressing cases.  It will improve access to justice by allowing self-represented litigants a better opportunity to have their matter handled in the “People’s Court,” where the system is less complex, procedurally.

According to Attorney General Doug Downey: “As a result of the change, more people will be able to file and respond to claims using less expensive representation, such as paralegals and law students, or through self-representation.”

Simplified Rules

In another change, the current government has increased the monetary jurisdiction for simplified rules actions by 100% – from $100,000.00 to $200,000.00 

Other changes to the Simplified Rules claims include:

  • A cap on costs of $50,000.00
  • A cap on disbursements at $25,000.00
  • Trials are limited to five days
  • Juries are not permitted

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, whose membership includes all the injury lawyers at Bergeron Clifford, said the reforms are “sensible and proportionate measures that will greatly enhance access to justice for injured accident victims.”

It appears that the changes reflect a wise new year’s resolution from the Ontario government.  Welcome to 2020!