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Revised Statutes of Newfoundland 1990


CHAPTER S-16

AN ACT RESPECTING SMALL CLAIMS

Analysis

1. Short title

2. Definitions

3. Jurisdiction

4. Representation

5. Matters beyond jurisdiction

6. Transfer of proceeding

7. Rules

8. Regulations

9. Subpoena

10. Enforcement

11. Judgment debtor

12. Evidence

13. Change of judge

14. Appeals


Short title

1. This Act may be cited as the Small Claims Act.

1979 c34 s1

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Definitions

2. In this Act

(a) "chief judge" means the Chief Provincial Court Judge;

(b) "court" means the Provincial Court of Newfoundland, established by the Provincial Court Act;

(c) "judge" means a Provincial Court judge; and

(d) "small claim" means a claim under this Act.

1979 c34 s2

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Jurisdiction

3. (1) A judge has jurisdiction to try and adjudicate upon a claim for debt, whether payable in money or otherwise, or for damages, including damages for breach of contract, where the amount claimed does not exceed $3,000, including claims within that amount for the recovery of taxes or charges under the City of St. John's Act, the City of Corner Brook Act, the City of Mount Pearl Act, the Municipalities Act or the School Tax Act, or under a regulation, order or by-law made under those Acts.

(2) A judge does not have jurisdiction to hear or adjudicate upon a claim or counterclaim

(a) in which the title to land is brought into question;

(b) in which the validity of a devise, bequest or limitation is disputed;

(c) for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, defamation, criminal conversation, seduction or breach of promise of marriage; or

(d) against a judge of a court, justice or public officer for anything done by him or her while executing the duties of his or her office.

1979 c34 s3; 1985 c15 s445; 1988 c35 s443;
1990 c16 s1

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Representation

4. In proceedings under this Act to which a corporation is a party, it may be represented by an officer or an employee of the corporation or by a solicitor.

1987 c41 s22

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Matters beyond jurisdiction

5. (1) A plaintiff may not divide a cause of action for the purpose of bringing 2 or more claims before a judge in respect of that cause of action, but where it appears that

(a) the claim of a plaintiff; or

(b) the counterclaim of a defendant

is in excess of the amount specified in section 3, the plaintiff or the defendant may, in writing, signed by him or her, abandon that part of his or her claim that is in excess of the jurisdiction of the judge and, in that event, he or she forfeits the excess and is not entitled to recover it in another action.

(2) Where in proceedings before a judge a defence or counterclaim of the defendant involves a matter beyond the jurisdiction of the judge, the defence or counterclaim does not affect the competence or the duty of the judge to dispose of the whole matter in controversy so far as it relates to the claim of the plaintiff and the defendant.

(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), no relief exceeding that which the judge has jurisdiction to administer shall be given to the defendant upon the counterclaim.

1979 c34 s4

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Transfer of proceeding

6. (1) Where there is a counterclaim for relief that exceeds the jurisdiction of the judge, a party to the proceeding may apply for an order that the whole proceeding be transferred to the Trial Division.

(2) An application under subsection (1) may be made, in the manner set out by the rule committee, to the Trial Division.

(3) A judge of the Trial Division, on application under subsection (1), may

(a) order that the whole proceeding be transferred to the Trial Division and a record of the proceedings be transmitted by the Provincial Court judge to that court; or

(b) order that the proceeding be heard and determined by the Provincial Court judge with direction from the Trial Division judge as the Trial Division judge thinks desirable, notwithstanding that the amount involved may be beyond the jurisdiction of a Provincial Court judge as described in section 3.

(4) Where a Provincial Court judge makes a determination under paragraph (3)(b), the relief that judge may grant is not limited by the amount set out in section 3.

1979 c34 s5; 1986 c42 Sch B

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Rules

7. (1) A rules committee consisting of

(a) 2 judges, 1 of whom is the chief judge;

(b) a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland designated by the benchers of that society; and

(c) 1 person designated by the Attorney General,

may make rules consistent with this Act in relation to the practice, procedure and costs of the court, including regulating the recording, pleading, practice and procedure, including 3rd party proceedings.

(2) Rules made under subsection (1) are subordinate legislation for the purposes of the Statutes and Subordinate Legislation Act.

1979 c34 s6

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Regulations

8. Notwithstanding section 7, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations fixing the scale of fees to be taken by the clerks of the court for filing documents required under this Act.

1990 c16 s2

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Subpoena

9. (1) In a proceeding under this Act the court has power to subpoena a person who is alleged to be a necessary witness to appear before a judge to give evidence in a proceeding.

(2) Where a person served with a subpoena neglects or refuses to appear and no just cause is shown for that neglect or refusal and it is proved that the person was served with a copy of the subpoena and was given his or her witness fee, a justice may issue a warrant to bring that person before a judge to give evidence.

1979 c34 s7

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Enforcement

10. (1) Judgments and orders of a judge may be enforced by execution upon the money, and by distress and sale of the goods and effects, of the person against whom the judgment is given or order is made.

(2) A subpoena, summons or order issued by the court is enforceable by contempt with the penalty which, in the opinion of the judge, the circumstances warrant.

1979 c34 s8

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Judgment debtor

11. (1) At any time after judgment and whether or not the judgment debtor has been previously examined as to his or her estate or means, a judge may

(a) upon the application of the judgment creditor; and

(b) upon being satisfied that it is appropriate to do so on account of a default in payment of the judgment or an alteration in the circumstances of the debtor,

have a summons issued requiring the debtor to appear for examination at a time and place to be mentioned in the summons.

(2) Where a judgment debtor appears in respect of a summons issued under subsection (1), he or she may be examined with respect to all matters touching his or her estate and means, and in particular, he or she may be examined

(a) as to the means he or she has of paying off the amount of the judgment;

(b) as to a change in the nature or amount of his or her estate or income since the summons in respect of which the judgment was issued; and

(c) as to the disposal of property that he or she has made since the summons in respect of which the judgment was issued.

(3) An examination of the judgment debtor's means shall be held in private and no person other than the judge, the court officers, the judgment creditor and the judgment debtor and their solicitors may be present.

(4) The judge may make an order for payment into court of the amount of the judgment at those times and by the instalments that he or she thinks appropriate.

(5) Where a person served with a summons issued under subsection (1) neglects or refuses to appear and no just cause is shown for that neglect or refusal and it is proved that the person was so served, a justice may issue a warrant to bring that person before a judge for examination.

1979 c34 s9

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Evidence

12. The judge shall ensure that a complete record of the evidence at a trial under this Act is taken in writing or by a sound recording machine as provided under the Recording of Evidence Act.

1979 c34 s10

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Change of judge

13. (1) Where the court issues a summons, any judge may later continue the proceedings, including enforcing a judgment order of another judge.

(2) A subpoena, summons or order issued by the court shall not be avoided because the judge who signed the subpoena, summons or order dies or ceases to hold office.

1979 c34 s11

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Appeals

14. (1) A party to a proceeding may appeal from a judgment or order of a judge to the Trial Division.

(2) Where an appeal is taken, the appellant shall give written notice of the appeal within 30 days of the judgment or order to the court and to the other parties in the proceeding.

(3) The rules of procedure relating to an appeal to the Supreme Court apply with the necessary changes to an appeal under this section.

1979 c34 s12; 1982 c9 s14; 1986 c42 Sch B

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