The Small Claims Court provides a timely, less formal and reasonably cost-effective forum for the resolution of certain types of claims, to a maximum of $25,000 (not including interest and legal costs). The Small Claims Court also functions as the initial forum for appeals from decisions of Residential Tenancy Officers affecting both tenants and landlords, and as the initial forum in which disputes between lawyers and their clients regarding fees and other financial issues are heard and resolved.
Matters in the Small Claims Court are heard by adjudicators appointed by the provincial government.
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In the Small Claims Court you can make a claim for up to $25,000, with some limitations. You can also make a claim for the return of goods or personal property valued to a maximum of $25,000.
You cannot make a claim in the Small Claims Court that relates to land ownership, wills and estates, malicious prosecution, wrongful imprisonment or defamation (libel and slander). You also cannot make a claim in the Small Claims Court for what are known in law as general damages in an amount greater than $100.
The remainder of the Small Claims Court’s jurisdiction relates to residential tenancy appeals (appeals from decisions over rented property made by Residential Tenancy Officers) and disputes between lawyers and their clients over fees and other retention issues.
Though lawyers frequently appear before the Small Claims Court to present claims and defence on behalf of their clients, it is not necessary for those appearing before the Court to be represented by a lawyer. In fact, the less formal nature of the Small Claims Court is conducive to claimants (those making claims) and defendants (those responding to claims) representing themselves.
Please note that the information outlined here is presented as general legal information only and should not be considered legal advice.
Making a Claim
Paper copies of claim forms are available at most courthouses across Nova Scotia. You can also complete the form online. However, the Court still requires a hard copy to be printed and filed with the Court.
Court Administration staff at the courthouse can answer questions you may have about filing. Staff are only allowed to provide general information. It is not intended to be legal advice.
If the defendant in your claim is a business, you can get the correct name of the business by calling the Registry of Joint Stock Companies at 902-424-7770. From outside Halifax, call Access Nova Scotia, toll-free, at 1-800-225-8227. You can also find this information online on the Registry of Joint Stock Companies website.
Completed claim forms can be filed at the courthouse, with the required filing fee. Court Administration staff will fill in the number of days you will have to give notice of the claim to the defendant and the date of the hearing of your claim. The notice period is usually 20 days.
The following resources may be helpful for individuals who are considering or preparing to file an action in the Small Claims Court:
The Small Claims Court and the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia have developed helpful resources if you are planning to represent yourself on a small claims matter.
The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia has developed an online app to assist people representing themselves and considering an action in the Small Claims Court.