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Going to court

Introduction

You are suing someone in Small Claims Court, or you are being sued. You have filed all the necessary papers, or received proper notice. What do you need to do to get ready for court? You must follow various procedures, and meet the required deadlines.

1. Settlement conference

  • The first stage in the Small Claims Court process is usually a Settlement Conference.
  • The purpose of a settlement conference is to:
    • settle or narrow down the issues in the case.
    • help to settle the dispute earlier.
    • assist the parties with trial preparation.
    • provide full disclosure between the parties of the relevant facts and evidence.
  • A judge conducts the Settlement conference in private.
  • The parties to the action must attend.
  • If you have a lawyer or agent, they may attend.
  • You have a right to ask for a Trial if you do not want to accept the other side's offer.
  • You have a right to ask the judge to order the other side to produce information you need for your case.
  • Nothing you or anyone else says at a settlement conference can be used as evidence at trial.

2. Trial

A Trial is a public process where the parties present their side of the case to a judge. The judge then makes a decision about the issues in the case and issues a judgment. You will have a different judge at the trial than you have at the settlement conference.

  • At the trial, the witnesses may give sworn evidence.
  • You need to provide a witness list 14 days before the trial.
  • If you don't go to the trial, a judgment may be made against you, or your claim dismissed.
  • If you have a very good reason for being unable to attend on the date set for trial, you can ask the court to adjourn the trial and reschedule it to another date.
  • You can ask the court office for assistance with an adjournment.
  • You have a right to have a lawyer, paralegal or agent help you with your case.

Learn more

  1. Decide if your problem relates to getting ready for Small Claims Court.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about how to get ready for Small Claims Court.
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on getting ready for Small Claims Court.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about your problem.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites.

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DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009