Following a successful six-month pilot project, Ontario plaintiffs can now file small claims court forms and pay court filing fees online.
So far, the e-filing service is only available to parties who are initiating claims (defendants cannot respond to a claim online), and only where the claimed amount is not in dispute. Claims that are eligible for e-filing include those where there is a contract of $25,000 or less, such as unpaid invoices, loans, credit card debt and overdue rent. Claims for amounts in dispute, such as claims related to personal injury, cannot be filed online at this time.
There are two options to file a claim online:
- ‘Filing Wizard’ guides those unfamiliar with filing a claim through the process of submitting court documents and paying court filing fees. This option is helpful for self-represented litigants.
- ‘Quick File’ gives legal professionals and others who frequently file small claims the option of uploading already completed forms.
Users must create a “ONe-key ID” to login to the online service. Within a few days of filing the claim online, the plaintiff will be emailed the court-issued copy for service.
If a defence is not filed within 20 days of service, the plaintiff can file a Default Judgment form online. If the defendant does file a defence, the normal small claims procedures will follow: the court will generate a date for a settlement conference. Plaintiffs will need to file hard copies of the claim and affidavit of service at the relevant court office at least 14 days before the scheduled settlement conference.
The fees charged to file online are the same as those charged to file in person.
The small claims court e-filing pilot launched in August 2014 at small claims courts in Brampton, Oshawa, Ottawa and Richmond Hill. The pilot was expanded to the Toronto small claims court in March 2015. Since the pilot launched, more than 2,000 claims have been filed online.