You may not know that as of July 1, 2014, the Small Claims Court Rules were amended. Most notably, a defendant to a Small Claims Court action must now serve his or her own Defence (previously, the Small Claims Court used to take care of serving Defences), and the defendant must file an Affidavit of Service along with the Defence. There is also a new provision that permits the Small Claims Court to stay or dismiss an action on the Court’s own initiative where it appears that the Claim is, among other things, frivolous and/or vexatious. There are also a few new forms that reflect the new amendments. You can see the changes and forms HERE.
Also notable is a new pilot project launched by the Ministry of the Attorney General on August 11, 2014, which permits Plaintiffs to electronically file Claims for a fixed amount of money in the following select cities: Ottawa, Brampton, Oshawa and Richmond Hill. Plaintiffs in those cities can also obtain default judgment online if a defendant misses the 20 day window for filing his or her Defence. The Ministry intends to expand this service across Ontario in the future.
Defendants who have been served with Claims for fixed amounts of money in the select cities should be even more careful not to miss the 20 day window for filing a Defence, especially where the Plaintiff is self-represented, as it has now become easier for the Plaintiff to obtain default judgment without any delay or warning.
Unfortunately e-filing Defences is currently not available. Defence lawyers everywhere can only hope that this feature will become available in the future.