On January 1, 2010, the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure and related statutes will undergo some of the most extensive revisions in recent history. The amendments are aimed at promoting greater efficiencies within the litigation system, by seeking to reduce the time and expense of litigation and increasing the public's access to justice.

One amendment of particular interest to condominium corporations is the increase in the monetary jurisdiction of Ontario’s Small Claims Courts from $10,000 to $25,000. Along with the authority to decide disputes of up to $25,000, Judges of the Small Claims Court will enjoy greater discretion in awarding legal costs when counsel is appointed, up to a maximum of $3,750. Pursuant to Ontario Regulation 439/08, these increases will apply to any claim brought on, or after, January 1, 2010.

Pursuing a dispute in Small Claims Court offers significant cost savings for any condominium corporation. The Small Claims Courts are governed by their own distinct rules, which impose less onerous obligations on the parties. A condominium corporation that is considering commencing an action in the Superior Court of Justice for an amount between $10,000-25,000 would be well advised to consider delaying the commencement of its action until January 1, 2010, so that it can be brought in Small Claims Court. This advice is of course predicated on the assumption that there are no limitation period issues or other concerns.

This amendment provides condominium corporations with the opportunity to obtain legal resolutions through an expedited process at a cost that is far more attractive to its unit owners. Heenan Blaikie is committed to assisting its condominium clients in navigating the unique dispute resolution challenges found in the industry at competitive rates.