If you are being sued in an Ontario Small Claims Court, you have 20 days to serve your defence on the other parties and subsequently file it with the court. This may be done by regular mail, courier or personal service. The days are counted from when service on you is considered effective . This depends on how you were served the documents. For a plaintiff’s claim, the day you were served personally or the day you signed for registered mail or courier is the day service is effective. If an order for substitutional service was obtained, there should be a copy of a judge’s order attached to your claim and it will indicate when service is effective. Court days are counted exclusive of the first day and inclusive of the last.

If you fail to file and serve a defence in the proper manner, then the plaintiff may obtain a default judgment against you. The defendant has a reasonable time which is about 30 days to file a motion or request consent to set aside a default order. If you already have judgment against you, we look for errors in service and possible defences. Even if there is only a partial defence and no errors in service, we can usually get a default order set aside and have a settlement agreement or settlement conference in its place. We will also look very closely at any possible defendant’s claims available to use as an offset and negotiating tool.

Remember, your personal credit score is reduced between 70 and 120 points by having a personal judgment or collection appear on your credit file. For a business, your credit score will also be impacted but it does not have the same dramatic and long term effect as a personal judgment. The judgment will reflect on a personal credit file for six years from the day it is satisfied and discharged (paid). Legislation governing commercial credit files does not exist in Ontario and therefore right or wrong, it will potentially remain on file forever.