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  • Writer's pictureBridget Lontok

So, you want to sue someone. Do you file a claim here, here or here?

Picking the right place to sue someone is important. Most times, you don't get a do over if you make the wrong choice. So how do you pick?

It depends (the most common answer that you'll hear from any legal professional, but it is the truth).

Nothing in this post is legal advice. You should speak to a lawyer or paralegal to get advice specific to your circumstances.

There is more than one reason that picking the right place is important. First of all, all courts and tribunals have power that is given to them in statutes. This power is limited and it allows them to decide certain things and not decide certain things, and this power allows them to grant and not grant certain remedies (awards and things that they can order). This is called jurisdiction.

You need to be sure that the place that you pick has the power to decide the issues in dispute and the power to order the remedy that you are asking for.

Sometimes there may be more than one place that has the power to decide the issues in questions, then what? You should do your consider if both places have the power to order the same remedies, the costs associated with each place, if one place offers a simplified process and if one place specializes in the issues that are in your dispute. These is a saying, you only get one kick at the can. If you do not like or disagree with a decision from one place, you cannot just go somewhere else and reargue the same issues. If you disagree with a decision you have to follow the proper procedures for reconsiderations, appeals and judicial reviews; you cannot skip the process and just go to a different tribunal, board or court.

If you pick the wrong place (the place you picked doesn't have the power to decide) then you will be wasting your time and your money, the Courts time and money, and the other party's time and money. Time is really important! Many laws only allow you a short period of time to do something; this is called a limitation period. For example, if you waste your time filing your claim in the Small Claims Court, by the time the Court tells you that they don't have the power to decide and only the Landlord and Tenant Board can decide you may have missed your limitation period. Filing your claim in the wrong place is not usually a good enough reason to be granted an extension to file a claim.

Picking is hard! You should get legal advice if you are unsure. You can contact me if your matter is within the scope of my practice, or you may want contact legal aid, the Human Rights Legal Support Center or use the Law Society's free referral service.

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