Small Claims Court
Is it Really a People's Court?

Publisher:  Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPRIG)
Year Published:  1977  
Pages:  35pp  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX317

A small selection of documents aimed at educating the public about the Ontario small claims court system.

Abstract:  This short study, sponsored by the Consumer Action Center of OPIRG, is actually a collection of several documents. It contains an essay which looks at the small claims courts and concludes that it is a valuable resource for the consumer who feels that money is owed to him/her (up to $400). As an addition and follow-up, there is also included a series of proposals for changes in the process used by the small claims court. These are designed to make it more accessible and comprehensible to the ordinary consumer who may have a complaint. One special proposal is for a full-scale study of the small claims court in Ontario. And, finally, there is a practical guide to the consumer on how to approach the small claims court in Waterloo County. This includes valuable indications on strategy to be used.
Small claims court was founded as a "people's court", an informal court where individuals could go to recover small claims without the services of a lawyer. Although the small claims courts have certainly helped settle hundreds of everyday consumer complaints, the court can and should be made more accessible to the layman. By "laymen" is meant both the small businessman and the small consumer, neither of whom can afford a long and costly court battle. This report is designed as a preliminary study to point out potential reforms and to recommend and outline a full-scale study of small claims courts across Ontario.

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