Ontario: Small Claims Court Claims Can Be Filed Online

Update:

Ontario - Superior Court of Justice located at 361 University Avenue in Toronto, Ontario.
Ontario – Superior Court of Justice located at 361 University Avenue in Toronto, Ontario.

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Ontarians now have a faster, easier way to make a claim in small claims court with the launch of a new online filing service. E-filing is a simple, convenient way to file a claim in small claims court without entering a courthouse.

Following a successful six-month pilot, individuals and businesses from across Ontario can now file small claims court forms and pay court filing fees online, 24-hours-a-day. Claims that are eligible for e-filing include those set out in a contract of $25,000 or less, such as unpaid accounts for goods and services, loans, credit card debt and overdue rent.

The Superior Court of Justice at the Court House located at 361 University Avenue.
The Superior Court of Justice at the Court House located at 361 University Avenue.

Ontarians have two options to file a small claim online:

  • ‘Filing Wizard’ guides those unfamiliar with filing a claim through the process of submitting court documents and paying court filing fees. This option is helpful for those who do not have legal representation by providing an inexpensive and easy to understand option.
  • ‘Quick File’ gives legal professionals and others who frequently file small claims the option of uploading already completed forms.

Making more court services available online will help build a more accessible justice system, and supports the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

Quick Facts

  • The small claims court e-filing pilot launched in August 2014 at small claims courts in Brampton, Oshawa, Ottawa and Richmond Hill. The pilot was expanded to the Toronto small claims court in March 2015.
  • Not all types of claims can be filed using the online system. Claims for amounts in dispute — such as many claims related to personal injury — cannot be completed using the online process at this time.
  • Since the pilot launched, more than 2,000 claims have been filed online. Nearly 20 per cent of those claims were filed outside regular court hours.
  • The fees charged to file online are the same as those charged to file in person.

Additional Resources

British Columbia Invents New System for Traffic Tickets

Update: see previous posts – September 20, 2104 Vancouver: Revenue is Way Down Using Administrative Penalty System (APS) for Parking Tickets

The Liberals are implementing amendments passed with no fanfare in 2012 to establish a new process for handling offences under the Motor Vehicle Act, similar to the paradigm shift made dealing with drunk drivers in 2010 when most impaired charges and trials were eliminated with a heavy-handed Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) regime.
The Liberals are implementing amendments passed with no fanfare in 2012 to establish a new process for handling offences under the Motor Vehicle Act, similar to the paradigm shift made dealing with drunk drivers in 2010 when most impaired charges and trials were eliminated with a heavy-handed Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) regime.

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The British Columbia government is moving ahead with its plan to shift traffic violation disputes out of the clogged court system.

The change was first announced in 2012 as a way to speed up traffic dispute resolutions and to “create system efficiencies and make processes more accessible for citizens,”  according to a statement from the ministry of justice.

Instead of receiving a ticket, drivers will be handed an electronic driving notice. Then instead of having the option of challenging the violation in court, a driver would appear before a new driver notice review board.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Safety confirmed Tuesday that a two-stage rollout is planned to shift MVA violations from the criminal system. Work is underway on Phase 1, it said, bringing in an electronic ticketing and online payment system; the new hearing system will follow.
The Ministry of Justice and Public Safety confirmed Tuesday that a two-stage rollout is planned to shift MVA violations from the criminal system.
Work is underway on Phase 1, it said, bringing in an electronic ticketing and online payment system; the new hearing system will follow.

No more paper tickets

“E-ticketing, coupled with a faster dispute resolution process, will mean that driver infractions will be recorded against driving records more quickly, thereby enabling interventions for high-risk drivers to be applied in a more timely manner,” according to the ministry.

About 14 per cent of the 500,000 tickets issued each year in B.C. are disputed and the government says the new dispute system will save $8 to $11 million per year by freeing up court resources for other work.

However, lawyer Kyla Lee says allowing a review board to handle traffic disputes is problematic because it “takes away all of the things that, as Canadians, we expect from our court.”

“You have police officers who are entitled to detain you, they’re entitled to handcuff you if necessary and when they turn on their lights behind you, you are required by law to stop your vehicle and present your licence,” Lee told The Early Edition‘s Rick Cluff.

Critics of this new system calls it a 3-step process. Phase two, which has no date set yet, replaces going to court with an administrative process similar to the rules in place now for accused drunk drivers. The new system uses flawed rules of evidence and unfair procedures. The police officer doesn’t have to show up to the hearing and therefore can't be cross-examined.
Critics of this new system calls it a 3-step process. Phase two, which has no date set yet, replaces going to court with an administrative process similar to the rules in place now for accused drunk drivers. The new system uses flawed rules of evidence and unfair procedures. The police officer doesn’t have to show up to the hearing and therefore can’t be cross-examined.

Concerns over lack of due process

“So there’s a huge exercise of power over citizens and we need courts to keep a check and balance on that power.”

Lee says disputing a driving notice under the new system will involve a three-part process. If the driver maintains innocence, they are obligated to provide evidence during a pre-hearing. After that, they will attend an actual hearing.

Police must submit a sworn report as evidence, but if the officer who issued the driving notice can’t do it, another officer can, Lee said.

“At the end of the day, the review board is going to determine how the hearing is going to take place, whether you get to cross examine the officer, whether the officer has to come, what evidence you can present — all of that is determined by the tribunal,” she said.

“You don’t have the power to mount your own defence in the way that you want to.”

The province says the planning and development of the electronic ticketing system is already underway. The new system for resolving traffic disputes out of court will follow at a later date.

Ontario Raising Legal Aid Eligibility Threshold Another 6%

Update:

Less and less people in Ontario can afford legal representation or access to justice. Ontario's 2014 budget committed to increasing the eligibility threshold by six per cent each year over three years.
Less and less people in Ontario can afford legal representation or access to justice. Ontario’s 2014 budget committed to increasing the eligibility threshold by six per cent each year over three years.

Province Giving More People Access to Affordable Legal Services

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Ontario is taking another step to enhance access to legal aid by raising the financial eligibility threshold by six per cent.

By working together with Legal Aid Ontario, the province provides low-income Ontarians access to legal services in areas such as criminal, family, immigration, mental health and poverty law. Ontario’s 2014 budget committed to increasing the eligibility threshold by six per cent each year over three years. This increase marks the second threshold increase and a $31.5 million investment by the Province into the legal aid system for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

As a result of these two threshold increases, an additional 250,000 low-income Ontarians are now eligible to receive legal aid.

Legal Aid Ontario provides services to low-income Ontarians, including:

  • Representation for urgent or serious matters, such as child protection cases
  • Advice about legal rights, obligations, and court processes
  • Assistance in the court room for bail hearings and sentencing
  • Local legal services from a community clinic, such as social assistance and housing law

Enhancing legal aid for Ontario’s most vulnerable is part of the government’s plan to ensure a fair and accessible justice system for all.

Quick Facts

  • Legal Aid Ontario has recently announced increased clinic funding as part of the financial eligibility expansion.
  • Prior to the 2014 Provincial Budget, the threshold had not changed since the 1990s. As a result, more and more Ontarians have been unable to afford legal representation in the court system.

Background Information

Additional Resources

Alberta: Certain Traffic Fines Will Increase by 35%

Update:

A peace officer operates a photo radar camera in Edmonton.
A peace officer operates a photo radar camera in Edmonton.

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Those who run red lights, fail to stop at crosswalk signals, or have a habit of speeding are going to have to dig deeper into their pocketbooks if caught by police.

As part of the Alberta government’s 2015 fiscal budget, a number of fines will increase by an average of 35% for certain traffic offences.

General speeding fines will now range from $78 to $474, and $156 to $949 through construction zones. The fine for failing to obey a red light will increase from $287 to $488, and from $172 to $233 for failing to stop at a signal/crosswalk or advancing into an intersection controlled by a flashing red light in an unsafe manner.

For Cpl. Chris Little with Strathcona County RCMP traffic services, the fine increases come as a pleasant surprise.

A review of provincial traffic fines was long overdue, said Little, but he would like to see increases to violations across the board – such as failing to stop at a stop sign or crossing double solid lines.

“Some of these serious offences we deal with all the time . . . One of the biggest problems we have when it comes to fatalities is people running marked stop signs at rural intersections,” said Little, who doesn’t believe an increase in speeding fines will slow down lead-footed drivers.

“There’s a lot of people that just frankly are not too worried about it. I think your concerned citizen may react to it initially, but I think it will be quickly forgotten, much like distracted driving.”

Little would also like to see an increase to the $57 fine for illegal tinted windows – a problem officers deal with often in the county. He’s also keeping a close eye on a bill that will increase distracted driving fines from $172 to $350, along with a three-demerit point penalty. Alberta is currently the only province in the country that doesn’t hand out demerit points with tickets for distracted driving.

A trip to a courthouse could also get more expensive. As part of the budget, a number of hefty fees have now been introduced when filing various court documents. The fees range from $50 to $150, depending on whats filed. Previously there was no fee at all.

New York City: After 50 Years, City Lowers Speed Limit from 30 MPH to 25 MPH Effective Today

Update:

New Yorkers have enjoyed a 30 mph speed limit for the last 50 years. That is about to change. New legislation lowering the speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph on all streets where a maximum speed is not posted went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, November 7, 2014.
New Yorkers have enjoyed a 30 mph speed limit for the last 50 years. That is about to change. New legislation lowering the speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph on all streets where a maximum speed is not posted went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, November 7, 2014. Ninety percent of city streets now have speed limits of 25 mph or lower. Up to 3,000 new speed limit signs will be erected over the next year.

see source

Drivers across New York City will have to ease up on the gas pedal.

New legislation lowering the speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph on all streets where a maximum speed is not posted went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The change is part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” program to cut down on traffic deaths.

Excessive speed contributes to 25 percent of roadway fatalities on city streets and is the leading cause of crashes, according to de Blasio’s administration. Reducing the speed limit to 25 mph doubles the likelihood of a pedestrian surviving a crash, the administration says.

New Yorkers will have to adjust from a speed limit of 30 mph that has been in effect for 50 years, down 5 mph to 25 mph.
New Yorkers will have to adjust from a speed limit of 30 mph that has been in effect for 50 years, down 5 mph to 25 mph.

Ninety percent of city streets now have speed limits of 25 mph or lower. Up to 3,000 new speed limit signs are be installed over the next year, and the city says it will prioritize signing at all entry points to the city.

The city is running radio, print and online ads, as well as handing out flyers and posting electronic traffic displays, to inform drivers of the change, which the City Council approved in October.

“Lowering the speed limit will save lives. This is a major step toward achieving Vision Zero, and it depends on every New Yorker taking personal responsibility and putting the lives of their neighbors first,” de Blasio said.

The reduced speed limit is one of 63 initiatives the administration is undertaking as part of the “Vision Zero” plan.