In Canada, most provinces and territories have Small Claims Courts where you can bring a claim and get a decision from a judge for a civil claim that has a small monetary value. Currently in Alberta, if you have a civil claim for less than $25,000, you can go to Small Claims Court (which is governed by the Provincial Court Act RSA 2000, cP-31). All civil matters claiming more than $25,000 are heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
On August 1, 2014, the Alberta government will increase the current limit for Provincial Court Civil claims from $25,000 to $50,000. Increasing this limit will divert matters into the Provincial Court and increase resources available in the Court of Queen’s Bench for more complex disputes.
Once the threshold is increased, Alberta will be the province with the highest threshold in Canada for small claims, which are often litigated without the help of a lawyer. Litigation in Small Claims Courts has been recognized as a process that is more expeditious, less complicated for self-representatives and more affordable than proceeding in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Increasing the monetary maximum for which civil claims can be brought in Provincial Court will likely provide greater access to justice for Albertans seeking an efficient and cost-effective way of resolving civil disputes. However, with more at stake, it may be advantageous for those who are facing small claims disputes to seek legal assistance.