If you are considering filing a small claim in Manitoba, I trust this information will be valuable to you. It is not necessary to hire a lawyer for these claims.
A small claim in Manitoba is a legal action commenced by the Plaintiff in the small claims court about a financial dispute that is less than or equal to $10,000. You can also file a claim if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident to determine liability. The onus will be on the plaintiff to prove the case, so it is important that you have evidence to support your claim. Evidence can be in the form of your testimony, documentation or witnesses.
The action of the claim is filed at the court office nearest to where your dispute arose. There are two small claims courts in Winnipeg; one in St. Boniface and the other is at the main court on York Avenue. If you live in rural Manitoba, there are generally small claims courts in each jurisdiction.
When you are ready to file your small claim, ensure that you have the correct spelling of the defendant’s name. You also must have their full mailing address. If the action is against a company, it would be wise to conduct a search of the company at the companies office located in Winnipeg. This is public information. If the company is a sole proprietor, you will need to list the party and the company’s name in the small claim as defendants. If the company is listed as an incorporation, you can only file the action against the incorporation. Once you have obtained the correct legal names, you are ready to file your small claim at the court office. The clerks are generally very helpful and will guide you through the process. When you have completed the form, the clerk will provide you with duplicate copies. Maintain one copy for your records and the other copy is to be served upon the defendant. You can serve the defendant by personal service or by means of a registered letter. If there are two defendants to serve, you will be required to serve both Defendants. For example, if you are serving an entity that is a sole proprietor, you must serve the individual and the business. Once service is personally effected, you will be required to fill out a form called the Declaration of Service. These forms can be obtained at the court office. You must serve the party within 30 days from the time the small claim was filed at the court office. If for some reason, you cannot execute service within this time frame, you can request an extension for service. This form can be obtained at the court office as well. You will be required to set a new court date, file the form and serve the Notice of Extension of Time along with the Small Claim and Notice of Intention to Appear.
At the time of your hearing, it is important to be prepared and always be polite. State your case in a clear and concise manner. If you have witnesses to support your argument, ensure they attend. You have the option to subpoena them. You will have an opportunity to directly examine them. The opposing party will also have an opportunity to cross-examine your witnesses.
When both sides present their arguments, the hearing officer will make a decision. You will receive a formal notice in the mail. If you lose, you can appeal the process by filing a Notice of Appeal in the Court of Queen’s Bench. If you win and the other party does not appeal the decision or fails to satisfy the judgment, you can file a Notice of Garnishment and serve their employer to garnish their wages. If you have the name of the defendant’s financial institution, you may serve a manager at the financial institution to garnish their bank account. If you are unable to locate assets or you are having difficulty finding out where the defendants are employed, we will assist you in that regard.
When you receive judgment against a defendant, this judgment is registered against them in their credit bureau file and will last for a number of years.