One of the difficulties Plaintiffs frequently encounter in Small Claims Court is the cost of pursuing a claim. In addition to legal costs and court costs, Plaintiffs are often required to obtain expert reports in order to prove an element of their case. An expert report is essentially an opinion on a material issue given by a qualified expert.
Under Ontario law, expert reports are required in a wide variety of cases such as when a dispute arises over a medical opinion or to asses damages in a complicated case. Most experts worthy of the name are accomplished professionals in their chosen field and it can be quite costly to both obtain a report and have an expert testify in court.
The rules of the Small Claims Court are designed to promote the hearing of a case in both a just and efficient manner. One such example is the admissibility of expert reports at a Small Claims trial. Ordinarily an expert is required to attend in person to testify at trial but in Small Claims Court it is possible for a judge to rely on Section 18 of the Small Claims Court Rules and accept an expert’s report as evidence without the expert actually being present in court.
The Ontario Insurance Law Blog, maintained by the law firm McCall Dawson Osterberg Handler LLP in London, Ontario, recently reported a case where this approach was taken at trial by a judge of the Ontario Small Claims Court.
Based in Kanata, the law firm of Connolly Nichols Allan & Snelling provides corporate & commercial, real estate, family, and civil litigation services (including employment, personal injury, and insurance law) in Ottawa and the surrounding area.