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Small Claims Court: Lawyer or Paralegal?

This blog post is intended to help you understand small claims court employment disputes and to help you pick a small claims court employment lawyer or a small claims court employment paralegal in Toronto.

What is the maximum amount of money you can sue your employer for in the Ontario Small Claims Court?

The maximum amount you can sue your employer starting in January 2020 at the Small Claims Court in Ontario is $35,000. This is an increase in the claims limit from the old cap of $25,000 and an even bigger increase than the old $10,000 limit.

The increasing maximum claim limit for Small Claims Court employment disputes helps people spend less money on lawyer fees. Paralegals can now be used to seek up to $35,000 instead of just $25,000. This change will provide better access to justice for low-income persons and for all individuals with any kind of employment law dispute that may not have been worth it to bring to trial before.

A paralegal is permitted to sue employers for Small Claims Court employment disputes in Ontario. Thus, most times, it makes more sense to hire a paralegal, not a lawyer to sue an employer at the Small Claims Court. Paralegals usually charge significantly less than lawyers. At our employment law firm, the paralegals usually charge less than half of what a lawyer charges by the hour for employment law lawsuits.

Paralegals with much employment law experience at the Small Claims Court are just as equipped to be successful as lawyers at the Small Claims Court, if not more equipped, because they will have significant experience at the Small Claims Court, whereas most lawyers do not litigate at the Small Claims Court at all.

If you have a case that is worth around $35,000, sue at the Small Claims Court. It will be faster and less expensive than hiring a lawyer and suing in the Superior Court. Not to mention, if you sue your employer at the Superior Court, but only win $35,000 or less, you may have significant adverse costs consequences awarded against you for bringing the lawsuit in the wrong forum.

To determine if your employment law case should be brought to the Small Claims Court, not the Superior Court, have an employment lawyer or paralegal review your severance package to see if it is worth around $35,000 or more or less.

What are the advantages of the Small Claims Court in Ontario?

  • More accessible (you can even represent yourself).
  • Cheaper transaction costs from the government to start the lawsuit.
  • Cheaper costs to hire a paralegal instead of a lawyer.
  • Free settlement hearings (no mediator fee or conference room fee).
  • Faster court dates.
  • Shorter trials.
  • Progressive, informal and expedited rules of the court.
  • Simple procedure.
  • Predictability of steps and better estimates of outcomes.
  • Costs awards are much less.
  • There are 77 Small Claims Courts across Ontario.

In closing, if you are considering legal action regarding your employment, but you are a short-service employee or someone who made a modest income, consider hiring a paralegal to start an employment law or wrongful dismissal lawsuit at the Ontario Small Claims Court.