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Small Claims Court or the Supreme Court of British Columbia – You Decide

When you are faced with a legal problem, try and settle the claim. Remember, settling a claim involves compromise on both sides.

If a compromise cannot be reached, you can go to court and have a judge decide the legal issue.

Generally speaking, there are two levels of courts that deal with legal disputes:

The Provincial Court Small Claims Division and The Supreme Court of British Columbia

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

The advantages of small claims court include:

  • a relatively short time to wait for a trial (about 8 months);
  • shorter trials (usually half a day);
  • relatively low costs; and
  • a mandatory settlement conference in front of a judge to try to settle the case.

The main disadvantage is that a judge cannot award more than $25,000.

The advantages of the Supreme Court of British Columbia include

    • No monetary limit on what you can claim;
    • Rules that provide for wider access to documents controlled by the other side; and
    • Your right (in most cases) to have the matter heard by a jury

The main disadvantages are:

  • A long wait for a trial date (up to 2 years)
  • Longer trials (usually 3 to 7 days in length)
  • Higher costs

Remember, before you decide WHERE to start a lawsuit, you must know WHEN to start a lawsuit. There are strict time limits and if you miss the time limit, you lose your right to sue. Don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer.