Are Case Decisions From the Small Claims Court Explained By the Judge?

Small Claims Court Decisions, Like Decisions In Other Courts, Must Be Explained By the Judge Providing the Reasoning For the Decision.

Understanding the Requirement of Reasons Within Judicial Decisions Including Small Claims Court Cases

Lawsuit Document The decisions that are made by a judge, including the decisions made in a Small Claims Court case, are required to include explanations of the reasoning for the decision.  Judicial reasons ensure that the parties to the litigation understand the legal basis for the decisions made as well as enable a review, if necessary, within the process of an Appeal.

The Law

The duty of a judge, including a Small Claims Court judge, to provide quality reasons for a judicial decision was well stated in Elnasr v. Mostafa, 2022 ONSC 1735, wherein it was specifically said:

[28]  In assessing the sufficiency of the Deputy Judge’s Reasons, I acknowledge the tremendous volume of matters in the Small Claims Court as well as the informal nature of the Small Claims Court. As stated in Maple Ridge Community Management Ltd. v. Peel Condominium Corp. No. 231, 2015 ONCA 520, 389 DLR (4th) 711, at paras. 34 and 35:

[34]  The Small Claims Court is mandated under s. 25 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, to “hear and determine in a summary way all questions of law and fact and may make such order as is considered just and agreeable to good conscience.” The Small Claims Court plays a vital role in the administration of justice in the province by ensuring meaningful and cost effective access to justice for cases involving relatively modest claims for damages. In order to meet its mandate, the Small Claims Court’s process and procedures are designed to ensure that it can handle a large volume of cases in an efficient and economical manner.

[35]  Reasons from the Small Claims Court must be sufficiently clear to permit judicial review on appeal. They must explain to the litigants what has been decided and why: Doerr v. Sterling Paralegal, 2014 ONSC 2335, at paras. 17-19. However, appellate consideration of Small Claims Court reasons must recognize the informal nature of that court, as well as the volume of cases it handles and its statutory mandate to deal with these cases efficiently. In short, in assessing the adequacy of the reasons, context matters: Massoudinia v. Volfson, 2013 ONCA 29, at para. 9. Just as oral reasons will not necessarily be as detailed as written reasons, reasons from the Small Claims Court will not always be as thorough as those in Superior Court decisions. Failing to take the Small Claims Court context into account only serves to restrict access to justice by unnecessarily imparting formality and delay into a legal process that is designed to be informal and efficient.

[29]  Or, in other words, to permit meaningful appellate review, the reasons must adequately express “what” was decided and “why” it was decided, see: Maple Ridge, at para. 24Law Society of Upper Canada v. Neinstein, 2010 ONCA 193, at para. 61.

[30]  If the reasons are not sufficiently detailed to understand “the what” and “the why” for the decision under review, then this is an error in law and the standard of review is correctness, see Maple Ridge, at para 22Barbieri v. Mastronardi, 2014 ONCA 416, at para. 22.

Summary Comment

A judge for a case in the Small Claims Court is required to provide reasons for a decision.  While the reasons may be expressed with less detail than a case in the higher court, the reasons must be sufficient for a review by an Appeal court if such situation were to occur.

Get a FREE ½ HOUR CONSULTATION

Need Help? Let's Get Started Today

ATTENTION: Do not send any confidential information through this web form.  Use this web form only to make an introduction.

For more information, fill out the form below to send a direct inquiry to Freed Legal Services

ATTENTION: Confidential details about your case must not be sent through this website.  Use of this website does not establish a legal-representative/client relationship.  Do not include confidential details about your case by email or phone.  Use this website only for an introduction with a Freed Legal Services representative. 
Privacy Policy & Cookies | Terms of Use Your IP Address is: 35.172.223.251
Toronto/Mississauga Head Office

2800 Skymark Avenue, Suite 200
Mississauga, Ontario,
L4W 5A6

P: (416) 623-3434 
E: toronto@freedlaw.ca

Innisfil Office

1274 Coleman Court
Innisfil, Ontario,
L9S 0G6 

P: (705) 986-0520
E: innisfil@freedlaw.ca

Hours of Business:

9:00AM – 9:00PM
9:00AM – 9:00PM
9:00AM – 9:00PM
9:00AM – 9:00PM
9:00AM – 9:00PM
9:00AM – 9:00PM
9:00AM – 9:00PM
Monday:
Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:
Friday:
Saturday:
Sunday:

Providing Legal Help within these Areas and More:

Among other areas in Ontario, Canada








Sign Up