FREDERICTON (GNB) – As of April 1, amendments regarding the Small Claims Act will come into effect, increasing the monetary limit to $20,000.

“This increase has been made as a government commitment,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “The new $20,000 limit will provide New Brunswickers and small businesses with increased access to justice for claims related to debt, damages and recovery of personal property.”

The small claims court has jurisdiction in dealing with a legal action for debt, damages or recovery of personal property for claims not exceeding $20,000. Possible claims include, but are not limited to:

  • Claims for money that is owed.
  • Claims for goods or services that were delivered, but not paid for.
  • Claims for personal injury caused by a car accident.
  • Claims relating to breach of contract.
  • Claims against someone who has property belonging to you and refuses to return it.

The increase of the monetary limit will not result in any changes to court processes. In order to file a claim, New Brunswickers must still submit a claims form to the Clerk’s Office. Once all defendants have been served and claims and defenses have been submitted to the Clerk’s Office, the clerk schedules a hearing. Claimants are still required to submit their claims within the two-year limitation period.

The monetary increase will create efficiencies and decrease the burden on the Court of Queen’s Bench by relying more often on the less onerous procedures of the small claims court.

Every year, about 1,800 claims are filed in small claims court. Of these, an average of 270 go to trial where the cases are decided by an adjudicator. The rest are resolved through settlements, mediation, default judgements or are dropped. With these changes, an additional 700 claims are expected to be filed yearly and trial caseloads are expected to increase by about 20 per cent.

In order to relieve any additional pressure that may result from these changes, the government is currently in the process of hiring a number of hearing officers, which will increase the number of adjudicators in the province.

The last change in the monetary limit was in 2013 when it was increased to $12,500 from $6,000.