Glossary

Disclaimer

All of the words and their respective definitions hereunder may have other or broader meanings than explained below. The explanations that follow are all defined within the context of the Ontario Small Claims Court and may have different meanings or applications in other courts or tribunals.

Affidavit

A written statement made by the signor, (the ‘Affiant’), which is sworn or affirmed before a Commissioner of Oaths, a Notary Public, or some other person who is authorized to take oaths, as to the truthfulness of the contents of the statement.

Affidavit for Jurisdiction

An Affidavit for Jurisdiction is an Affidavit which states that the action being brought before the court properly belongs in the court of the jurisdiction in which the claim is being issued.

Assessment Hearings

After you issue and serve a Plaintiff’s Claim on a defendant, the defendant has 20 days from the date of service in which to serve and file a defence. If the defendant does not file a defence, then a plaintiff can note that defendant in default and proceed to obtain judgment. If the claim is for a liquidated debt, you may be able to obtain a ‘default judgment’ by simply filing the appropriate paperwork with the court office. In that case, the court clerk can enter a default judgment. The amount of costs that you will receive will be limited by obtaining a judgment in this manner.

If your claim is for a non-liquidated debt, then the clerk of the court cannot sign judgment - only a judge can. In that case you will have to, (and even in the case of a liquidated debt, you may want to), present the matter to a judge to sign judgment. In that case, you would ask the court to schedule an ‘Assessment Hearing’. The cost for an Assessment Hearing is $100.00 and that cost is recoverable as part of the judgment.

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Breach of Contract

Contract Law is a large and complex area of law.  But its purpose is simple to state and understand – it is to clearly define business matters and make them more predictable.

Once parties enter into a contract, then the parties to that contract are bound by its terms and conditions.  Why, then, are there so many disputes over contracts?  Because often times the terms are not clear; or the parties, or one of them, lacked the legal capacity to enter into the contract; or that one party had an unfair advantage over the other; or a term or terms of the contract or the entire contract itself, was illegal; or that one party alleges that the terms of the contract were not honoured by the other party; or, or, or - the list of situations and circumstances are endless.

Claim

A Claim is a document which the person, persons or corporation making the Claim (the Plaintiff or Plaintiffs) issues with the court to commence a lawsuit and which sets out the amount or personal property being sought and the nature of the claim

Communications

Communications is a very large topic.   In this article, I address it only from the perspective of how important it is as it relates to litigation and proving your side of the story, whether you are suing or being sued.

Many actions can turn on how events unfolded at the time that the cause of action was occurring.  For example, if you are complaining that a contractor did not complete his work or, if he did, that he did so in a poor and unworkmanlike manner, it is helpful if you have documentation of texts, emails, or even letters which you have provided to the contractor stating exactly what the problems are and that those communications occurred at the time that the events were occurring and not just months later as a recap.

It is always important to keep the other side informed of any shortcomings in workmanship or whatever the issues are that you are dealing with and it is best if that communication is in writing.  Try to anticipate that a problem exists or may be about to exist and communicate in clear, precise and polite language.  Always keep a record of that written communication and any responses. 

If the communication is verbal, keep an accurate chart of the date and time of the conversation, the name of the person you spoke to (ask for the name if you don’t know it), and a detailed explanation of what was discussed, promised, and/or agreed to.  This will help your recollection in the future of what occurred and give you credibility at that later date when you have to recall the events in detail.  You should also confirm in writing to the person who you spoke to the content of the oral discussion that you had.

Default Judgment

A default judgment is an Order of the court against an individual or corporate defendant, or both, who has not filed a defence to a Plaintiff's Claim, or whose defence to a Claim has been struck or withdrawn.

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