Improvements to Small Claims Court

Government is improving access to small claims court and simplifying the process, including waiving fees for low-income Nova Scotians.

The following changes will come into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 3:
— the costs to file and counter a claim will be waived entirely for low-income Nova Scotians
— simpler, clearer and more user-friendly forms will be available for filing a notice of claim, defence or counterclaim
— once a person files a notice of claim with the court, they will have 20 days (rather than the previous 10) to serve it on the defendant. This is consistent with the time allowed to file a defence or counterclaim, which has always been 20 days
— the amount of wages exempt from garnishment has increased from $415 to $450 for a debtor supporting a family, and from $275 to $330 for other debtors.

“We are committed to enhancing access to justice for all Nova Scotians, and small claims court is an important part of that,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Furey. “These changes make the process easier and more accessible for everyone.”

Quote:
“The small claims court of Nova Scotia provides a timely, informal and effective means to resolve a variety of personal and business-related claims. With the initiative of the Department of Justice and successive attorneys general, the small claims court has been able to grow, change and adapt with the times. As a result, the court maintains its status as one of the province’s most important access-to-justice forums.”
– Gavin Giles, chief adjudicator, small claims court of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:
— to be eligible for waiver of fees, Nova Scotians must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in regulations. The criteria are consistent with that used by the Supreme Court and residential tenancies
— the cost to file a claim under $5,000 is $99.70
— the cost to file a claim between $5,000 and $25,000 is $199.35
— the cost to counter a claim of any size is $66
— in 2018-19, more than 2,300 cases were handled in small claims courts in Nova Scotia.

Additional Resources:
A list of court fees and eligibility criteria for waiving those fees is available at http://www.courts.ns.ca/Fees_Of_Courts/court_fees.htm .

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