Reply to a Claim
What to do if You’ve Received a Notice of Claim
If you have received a BC Small Claims Court Notice of Claim, and you are named as the defendant, you are being sued. You only have a short time to file your reply with the court. Be sure to review the whole document carefully as soon as you get it. The Notice of Claim form includes a blank Reply form with instructions to help you fill it out. Do not ignore a Notice of Claim! If you do nothing, the claimant can get a default judgment against you. See Default Orders to learn more.
STEP 1: Deciding How to Reply to a Claim?
The first thing you need to decide is whether or not you want to oppose all or part of the claim. You may also decide to make a counterclaim against the claimant (see Counterclaim). Or, if you do not oppose the claim, you should make arrangements with the claimant to make payment and ask them to withdraw the claim (see Options).
Agree to Pay
If you agree to pay part or all of the claim, you can reach out to the claimant to discuss payment. If you are able to come to an agreement over the payment amount and schedule you can sign and file a consent order. If you come to an agreement make sure to request the other party withdraw their claim. They can do this by filing a Notice of Withdrawal.
If you are unable to reach the claimant, can’t come to an agreement or only agree to pay part of the claim you will want to file out the Notice of Claim Reply form. There is space on the Reply form for you to indicate what you are agreeing to pay.
Oppose the Claim
If you do not agree with all or part of the claim you will need to state your reasons why in the Reply form.
If you think that you also have a claim against the claimant you may decide to sue them. This is called a counterclaim. You can counterclaim up to $35,000 in BC Small Claims Court – if it is more, the whole matter will be moved to the BC Supreme Court.
For example: If your contractor is suing you for an unpaid invoice, but you believe that their faulty work caused damage to your home, you could counterclaim for the damages they caused.
There is a section on the Reply form to make a counterclaim. Fill it out according to the instructions and file it the same time as you file the Reply form. Provide information to describe your claim against the claimant. What is your claim? Why? How much?
If you are submitting a counterclaim, you need to provide the claimant with a copy. See Serving Documents to learn more. After you serve the counterclaim, the claimant will need to provide you with a reply. The claim and counterclaim will be handled by the court at the same time.
Third Party Claims- What if I think someone else should pay?
If you think there is someone other than you who should pay all or a portion of the claim, you can make a third party claim.
For example, you would make a third party claim if you are being sued for doing a roof that leaks but you think the leak is because the shingles were faulty. You can claim against the shingles manufacturer.
To make a third party claim in BC Small Claims Court, you must:
- Complete a Third Party Notice form
- File it at the court registry and pay the filing fee
- Serve the third party with these documents:
- A copy of the Third Party Notice
- A copy of the Notice of Claim
- A copy of your Reply form
- A blank Reply form
- A copy of the notice of settlement conference, mediation session, trial conference or trial, if one has been issued
Step 2: Complete the Reply to a Claim Form
Put in the name and address of the claimant as it appears in the Notice of Claim.
Put in your full name and address. Be sure this address is your current address where you can receive court documents and notices.
If your address changes at any time, be sure to notify the Small Claims Court registry and all other parties to the lawsuit by completing an Address for Service form.
Take a look at the “How Much” section of the Notice of Claim. For each section (a –e) state the reasons why you disagree. If you agree with part of the claim indicate that here.
Agreement with the claim:
If you agree to pay part or all of the claim, this is where you state the amount and timing of payment or payments.
Step 3: File your Reply and Pay the Court Fee
The Reply form must be filed at the same registry where the Notice of Claim was filed. Check the registry location on the top of the Notice of Claim form.
You will be asked by the court registry to pay a filing fee. The filing fees would also need to be paid if filing electronically, by mail or fax. You may pay the filing fee by cash, debit, personal or company cheque, certified cheque, money order or bank draft, payable to the Minister of Finance. For more information on these fees see Forms, Filing & Fees.
The registry will serve the Reply form on the claimant within 21 days of it being filed.
What happens next may depend on the court location of the Claim. See the Court Process Overview to find out about the next steps in your case. If you have agreed to pay the full amount of the claim you and the claimant may sign a consent order and agree upon a payment schedule.