Manitoba Law Reform Commission seeking comments on reforming the small-claims system in Manitoba
October 26, 2016
BY Kevin Zakreski
The Manitoba Law Reform Commission is asking the public for comments on Manitoba’s small claims court. Published as part of the commission’s Access to Courts and Court Processes Project, the Consultation Report on Improving the Small Claims System in Manitoba (PDF) makes five provisional recommendations for comment:
- The monetary limit under the Small Claims Practices Act should be increased.
- Section 3 (1) of the Small Claims Practices Act should be amended to allow the monetary limit for small claims to be adjusted upward by regulation.
- The general damages limit under the Small Claims Practices Act should be increased to an amount proportionate to the increase in the monetary limit for small claims.
- Section 3 (1) of the Small Claims Practices Act should be amended to allow the general damages limit to be adjusted upward by regulation.
- Wrongful dismissal claims should be added to the list of excluded proceedings under section 3 (4) of the Small Claims Practices Act.
The commission views these proposed reforms as a potential means to improve access to justice generally:
Reform of the Small Claims Practices Act can enhance access to justice in Manitoba in two ways. First, an increase in the monetary limit means that more people are able to have their disputes resolved in a more cost effective and expeditious forum as opposed to the more onerous procedural steps and stricter rules of evidence at the Court of Queen’s Bench. Second, more claims being directed to Small Claims Court will help to relieve the burden on the Court of Queen’s Bench and free up judicial resources.
The consultation report also contains background information on the history of small claims in Manitoba, the current system, and aspects of small claims courts and procedures in other Canadian jurisdictions.
The consultation is open until 5 December 2016. Responses may be given through an online survey or by email, fax, or regular mail to the commission.