Representations of the Lady of Justice in the Western tradition occur in many places and at many times. She sometimes wears a blindfold, more so in Europe, but more often she appears without one. She usually carries a sword and scales. Almost always draped in flowing robes, mature but not old, no longer commonly known as Themis, she symbolizes the fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, avarice, prejudice, or favor.

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2013 New Year's Resolution:
To however, cause the Judiciary of New Brunswick to uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Reason being, that, the Charter is applicable in New Brunswick, just as all provinces are bound by the Constitution.
Despite the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted in 1982, it was not until 1985, that, the main provisions regarding equality rights (section 15) came into effect. The delay was meant to give the federal and provincial governments an opportunity to review per-existing statutes and strike potentially unconstitutional inequalities.


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

New and improved? New brunswick Legislative Assembly Reinstates Small Claims Court Effective January 1, 2013

Legal Update: N.B. Reinstates Small Claims Court Effective January 1, 2013

The N.B. legislature abolished N.B.’s Small Claims Court in 2010. The Small Claims Court gave claimants the option to deal with certain types of claims of up to $6,000 in a faster and simpler way, primarily by employing adjudicators instead of judges and eliminating certain procedural steps applicable to larger claims. Two completely new “expedited” court processes – Rules 79 (“Simplified Procedure”) and 80 (“Certain Claims not exceeding $30,000”) – that saw Court of Queen’s Bench judges adjudicate claims up to $75,000 and $30,000 respectively, replaced the Small Claims Court.

Effective January 1, 2013, N.B.’s current provincial government enacted a regulation reinstating a Small Claims Court in New Brunswick, and simultaneously repealed Rule 80. The new Court became operational on January 2, 2013.  Key aspects of the “new” Small Claims Court are:

  • the Court’s jurisdiction will be over certain types of claims with a monetary limit of $12,500;
  • Adjudicators – rather than judges – will once again hear disputes;
  • there are new forms, but the process to deal with a claim – including elimination of pre-hearing document and witness disclosure and discovery, relaxed rules for service of a claim and for evidence at the hearing, and mandatory settlement efforts – are largely unchanged from the pre-2010 small claims regime, and more relaxed than that under Rule 80;
  • settlement efforts prior to hearing are mandatory;
  • a party dissatisfied with a decision on the substance of the claim has the right to a new hearing by a Court of Queen’s Bench Judge, while a party dissatisfied with a decision unrelated to the substance of the claim can apply for an appeal; and
  • Adjudicators can order costs of up to $500 against an unsuccessful party.

Click here to read the Regulation bringing to new Small Claims Court into effect.

Click here to see the new Small Claims Act.

N.B.’s “new” Small Claims Court has a number of features harkening back to the pre-2010 small claims regime, and represents a significant departure from the regime created by the now repealed Rule 80.


The Small Claims Court has two jurisdictional limits; it can only deal with:

  • debt, damages and recovery of personal property claims; and
  • claims of up to $12,500.  

Thus, if a claim is less than $12,500, but is not a type of claim that the Small Claims Court has the authority to adjudicate, the claimant must resort to the other available court processes.  If the claim is one with which the Small Claims Court can deal, but the amount exceeds $12,500, the claimant can choose to abandon and forfeit the amount over $12,500 and proceed under the new rules; however, a claimant cannot split a single claim into two or more amounts to fit within the Small Claims Court’s monetary limit.


The new Court will once again utilize appointed adjudicators, rather than Court of Queen’s Bench judges, to adjudicate small claims.  Adjudicators are immune from legal action, though there is a complaint process for misconduct allegedly committed during the adjudication of a claim.


There is a fresh set of forms for Small Claims Court matters, but the document filing procedure will remain largely unchanged.  Some timelines for filing and serving documents, however, are different from those under Rule 80:

  • a claimant has one year (rather than the six months under Rule 80) after filing the Claim with the Court to serve the defendant(s) with the Claim; and
  • parties must file and serve all amended documents at least 14 days (rather than 20 days under Rule 80) before the scheduled hearing date.

The rules for serving documents are also relaxed compared to those under Rule 80:

  • a party can serve an individual by leaving documents with an adult occupant (e.g., a spouse or adult child) at the individual’s dwelling, and sending another copy by ordinary mail to the individual’s residence on the same or next day; and
  • a party can serve a business by leaving documents with a receptionist at the place of business; unlike Rule 80, it is not necessary to leave the documents with someone who appears to be in control or management of the business.

When the defendant admits, either in full or in part, a claim for a debt, then the defendant may request that the matter proceed directly to a payment hearing, at which the parties can arrange a payment schedule for amounts they agree are owed to the claimant.


As was the case with the pre-2010 Small Claims Court, the new Court has less stringent rules for the admission of evidence than under Rule 80.  An adjudicator can admit oral testimony and documents as evidence at a hearing when it is:

  • relevant to the subject-matter of the hearing; and
  • not privileged.

A party is not required to file a list of the witnesses and documents upon which it intends to rely before the hearing.


Also as in the pre-2010 small claims regime, parties are mandated to attempt to settle their dispute, and must engage in settlement conversations before a matter will be permitted to go to a hearing.  There is a confidential mediation process available that will not affect the court record if settlement efforts are unsuccessful.      


The new Small Claims Court rules permit an adjudicator to order a maximum of $500 in costs against a party for unreasonably bringing or defending an action. Under Rule 80, cost awards were based on the Rule 59 tariff and could thus be much greater.


A party dissatisfied with an adjudicator’s decision has two possible appeal avenues:

  • a party dissatisfied with the adjudicator’s decision on the substance of the claim has an automatic right to a completely new hearing before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge. This is a significant change; the only option under Rule 80 was a request for leave to appeal to the N.B. Court of Appeal on a legal issue.  To seek a new hearing, a party must file a request for appeal within 30 days after the adjudicator’s decision is filed; the judge hearing it has the option of conducting the appeal under the Small Claims Court’s relaxed rules of evidence and procedure; and
  • a party dissatisfied with the adjudicator’s decision for a reason unrelated to the substance of the claim – for example, a procedural issue like a ruling relating to the admission of evidence or service – is not automatically entitled to a new hearing.  The dissatisfied party can file a notice of appeal by application within 10 days after the adjudicator’s decision is filed.  The judge who hears the application can grant or deny the appeal, and make any order that she considers just.


Rule 80 is repealed, and it is no longer possible to file claims under Rule 80.  However, there is no effect on Rule 80 claims commenced before January 1, 2013, and furthermore such claims cannot be transferred to the Small Claims Court.  There is no change to Rule 79, which remains in full force and effect and continues to apply to claims in excess of $12,500 and up to $75,000.


The reinstitution of a Small Claims Court in N.B. has a number of positive implications for litigants; however, it is questionable whether the changes will have any practical effect for corporate and institutional litigants:

  • The new legislation may provide some welcome clarity, and address confusion that changes to the rules for “smaller” claims in the last three years may have created for litigants.
  • A return to the use of adjudicators rather than judges effectively removes claims within the new Court’s jurisdiction from the mainstream court docket and administrative process.  Combined with the short timeframes, this will likely result in the faster adjudication of these claims.
  • Relaxed procedural and evidentiary rules also help to move the process forward more quickly, and at a lower cost.
  • The new Court’s monetary limit is more than double that of the pre-2010 small claims regime ($6,000).  However, it is substantially less than the $30,000 threshold under Rule 80.  Thus, the scope of Rule 79 has effectively been expanded to cover claims from $30,000 to $75,000, to covering claims from $12,501 to $75,000. 

Since many corporate and institutional “small” claims are likely to be between $12,501 and $75,000, and Rule 80 is repealed, these corporate and institutional litigants will have to proceed under Rule 79 for “smaller” claims. 

Current version of Small Claims Act: in force since Jan 1, 2013

Small Claims Act, SNB 2012, c 15, <http://canlii.ca/t/51z39>

Small claims court bill introduced Marie-Claude Blais says the court should be re-established by fall

Justice Minister Marie-Claude Blais says it will cost $270,000 to re-establish small claims courts. (CBC)

The Alward government has introduced a bill to re-establish small claims courts in New Brunswick, following through on an election promise.

Small claims court was transferred to the Court of Queen’s Bench in 2010 by the former Liberal government in an effort to save money — a controversial decision that generated much criticism at the time.

Small claims courts allow people with cases involving small amounts of money to avoid a full lawsuit and trial.

"We're going to be ready, on the ground in the fall, we hope,” said Justice Minister Marie-Claude Blais, who introduced the Small Claims Act Friday morning.

“We have to retrain, re-choose, adjudicators, so there's things we have to put in place, but we're very happy today to have met that commitment,” she said.
 “We feel that it is very important.”

In November 2010, Blais pledged the provincial government would make good on its campaign promise to reinstate the so-called people’s court “soon,” despite fiscal challenges.

Small claims court ensures access to justice for everyone, not just the rich, she had said.
On Friday, Blais described the Liberal's system as flawed, inefficient and ineffective.

Changes based on consultations

Re-establishing small claims will cost $270,000, she said.
The Liberals contend folding small claims cases into the full court system was actually more efficient.

But many lawyers, experts and even some judges questioned the cut back in 2010, saying it would result in a backlog and more staff would have to be hired.

"We have consulted extensively with the New Brunswick Law Society and the Canadian Bar Association, New Brunswick branch," said Blais.

Based on those consultations, the government has decided to increase the maximum allowable claim to $12,500, up from the $10,000 limit originally planned, she said.

The provincial government is committed to reviewing that amount in the future, said Blais.

The procedures for filing and hearing small claims matters are expected to be much the same as they were before.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Small Claims Court of New Brunswick


The Small Claims Court of New Brunswick was established on January 1st, 1999. This court hears civil suits for debt or damages, return of personal property or a combination of those claims, where the value involved does not exceed $6,000.

On March 14, 2009, it was announced that the Small Claims Court will be eliminated as part of budget cuts included in the 2009-2010 New Brunswick Budget.

An act to repeal the Small Claims Act received royal assent on June 19, 2009. A new rule of court is being drafted to provide for filing and hearing small claims in the Court of Queen's Bench. Once this new rule of court is finalized, the new act will come into effect.

The province also plans to increase the small claims limit from $6,000 to $30,000.

ResultsIn response to the March 14, 2009 announcement, CBA-NB issued a statement that it

strongly opposes the announcement that the Province of New Brunswick has decided to eliminate the Small Claims Court and transfer small claims cases to the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench...

Small claims adjudicators were put in place in January of 1999 in order to reduce the backlog in the Court of Queen's Bench. "Prior to the appointment of adjudicators there were 1,600 small claims waiting to be heard by a Judge. It took months for a small claims matter to be heard" said Keyes [President of CBA-NB].

Transferring approximately 2,000 cases to the Court of Queen's Bench will quickly create backlogs and will significantly impair the efficiencies that are now present in the Court of Queen's Bench. "Litigants want their cases dealt with as quickly as possible. We fully expect that adding small claims to the already busy case load in the Court of Queen's Bench will cause serious delays in having all cases heard by the Court" said Keyes.
CBA Statement