Prepare well before making petty claims

Since you will have to defend your case alone in front of a judge, it is best to be well prepared.

Did your negotiations with the seller fail and he did not respond to your legal notice (see Tip 94)? You can go to court: in many cases, this single gesture, showing your determination to go all the way, encourages the seller to settle the dispute without going to a judge. Filing a small claims claim also allows you to use the free mediation service (see Tip 99). If the total amount of the dispute in question does not exceed $15,000, you will have to represent yourself without a lawyer in the Small Claims Division of the Court of Quebec. Please note, however, that if your claim exceeds $15,000, you can reduce it to that amount. In fact, this will save you from having to file a petition with the Civil Division of the Court of Quebec, which involves more complicated and above all more expensive procedures, as it may encourage you to be represented by a lawyer, which is not impossible for small claims.

Please note that in the case of a consumer dispute, the jurisdiction in which the case will be heard is the consumer’s domicile or domicile. This may be an advantage for him because if the trader is far away, he will have to travel or may not show up on the day of the hearing.

To learn about the various steps that will lead you to filing a small claims claim, visit the Department of Justice website. You will find there, among other things, a form that will allow you to file a claim. To be as prepared as possible, you can read the article Small Claims Court: What You Need to Know and How to Prepare, and check out various resources such as:

• a lawyer or legal support organization;

• Small Claims Guide from the Montreal Young Bar Association;

• booklet “Alone in Civil Court” by the Barrault du Quebec Foundation;

• aide-memoire of the Small Claims Approval Table;

• A video from a Quebec court on the role of a small claims judge.

You should also be aware that local justice centers offer information sessions to help you better prepare for your case. It may also be interesting to read judgments rendered in cases like yours on the Société québécoise d’information juridique website. Finally, if your case involves legal safeguards, you can refer to the Legal Guarantee Judgment Examples tool on the Consumer Protection Authority website.

Seller refuses to pay?

Have you received a decision in your favor, but the convicted trader or manufacturer refuses to pay you the amount due? Visit the Quebec Ministry of Justice website for the procedures you can take. However, before initiating a lawsuit, the Consumer Protection Authority suggests checking whether the person or company concerned is solvent.

>>Also read: Our article Small Claims Court: What you need to know and how to prepare

This advice is taken from 100 TIPS for Consumers, Your Rights on a Daily Basis, prepared in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Authority. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Authority is offering this guide free of charge to all consumers.


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