The Trial

What happens at the trial?

At the start of the trial, both parties swear or affirm to tell the truth (promise  to tell the truth). Then the claimant and the defendant both have a chance to tell their stories to the judge. They can respond to what the other party says. If there were witnesses to some part of the dispute, the witnesses also give their evidence to the judge.

The judge makes a decision and a court order is prepared. If the defendant, for example, is ordered  to pay money to the claimant, the judge will also try to work out a reasonable schedule for the defendant to pay the claimant. For example, the judge may order the defendant to pay $250 a month until the debt is paid off.

If the claimant believes that the defendant can pay the debt faster, the parties will go to court again for a “payment hearing”. The judge asks the defendant questions about his or her ability to pay, and then makes a decision about how the debt will be paid.

Simplified trials

There is a special procedure in the Vancouver and Richmond courthouses. If the amount of money claimed is between $5,001 and $10,000, the trial is limited to one hour. A judicial justice of the peace, not a judge, will hear the trial. A judicial justice of the peace is a lawyer who has the authority to act as a judge in some small claims cases.

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