5. Self represented parties sue the wrong person or entity! This is a common and fatal error that self-represented parties make time and time again. When you sue a person or a business, it is of the utmost importance that you sue the correct legal entity. For example, if you sue your neighbor whom you know as “Joe Smith”, you must be sure that “Joe Smith” is his full legal name. Otherwise, you may later come to find out that his legal name is in fact Joseph Smith or Joe Thomas Smith”. If you did not use the correct legal name in the lawsuit, it will be impossible to try to enforce your judgment against him. Alternatively, you may want to sue your florist who you know as “Flowers R Us”. However, the correct legal entity behind Flowers R Us is in fact 123456 Ontario Inc. If you sue “Flowers R Us” instead of “123456 Ontario Inc.”, you will likely not be able to enforce a judgment against them. A licensed paralegal will automatically perform all necessary searches to determine the correct legal name of the person or business that you are suing!
4. Including too much Information when you are Self-Representing. Making sure you have the proper information is important as well. If you have too little or too much information present it can play a major role on the actual outcome. Those who try to provide too much information will only frustrate the judge. This is because there are only certain facts they need to know. Then again, if you don’t have enough info then the ruling could end up in your opponent’s favor. Listen, you don’t need a four or five page description of the events. You also need to make sure you have exactly what you need to be successful in the courtroom. Leaving out details can end up making you lose money. A great example of this is when people sue for breach of contract. Understanding the agreed upon amount in the contract is important and you must provide details that revolve around it. If you sit there and explain what you’ve paid to this point and when you made each payment, the judge will still revert back to the original contract. When you utilize licensed paralegals you can narrow down the problems throughout and present the case accordingly. In fact, paralegals will even plead your case before you even step foot in the courtroom.
3. Self represented parties do not know the law! Knowing the law and how to apply it to various situations is different from knowing when a cause of action arises. People generally know when a wrong has been committed against them for which they can seek remedy through the courts. However, knowing the law and which legal arguments apply to a situation is an entirely different matter all together. There are often times when you cannot ask the court for certain legal remedies or rely on certain defences if you have not included them in your initial claim or defence. This can result in unfavorable judgments or orders against you. A licensed paralegal will know how to argue your case in a legal context and which arguments to notify the other parties of in advance of the hearing so as to not deprive you of any of the rights and remedies that are available to you!
2. A self represented does not know the Rules of the Small Claims Court. The Small Claims Court is governed by, among other things, the Rules of the Small Claims Court. The Rules are quite lengthy and govern all aspects of a proceeding including forms, service, evidence, timelines, fees etc. A self-represented party will often find themselves overwhelmed by the rules of a proceeding, let alone the actual case itself. For example, the rules pertaining to evidence require all parties to exchange documents thirty days before trial, otherwise it may not be admissible in court. Many self-represented parties serve their evidence on the opposing party after the 30 day deadline, or sometimes they show up with the evidence at trial without having served it on the opposing party at all. Situations like this can be devastating to your case. The judge may not allow you to rely on evidence that has not been served properly, which may be fatal to you. The judge may also adjourn the trial to a new date in order to give the opposing party time to review the new evidence. This can cause a great deal of delay in a case and can frustrate the proceeding. A licensed paralegal will be fluent in the Rules of the Small Claims Court and will be in a much better position to move your matter forward in accordance with those rules. You will not experience the same amount of delay and overwhelming sense of confusion as you would if you were to be self-represented; your paralegal will explain each step to you and will take on the responsibility of complying with the rules, so you wont have to!
1. A Self-Represented Party is SELF-REPRESENTED. After reading everything above, it’s probably no surprise that this is the #1 problem. When you don’t understand all the laws or how to work your way around a courtroom, the end result is almost always a negative one. There are several different twists and turns that you have to think about before you even begin your defense. What it comes down to is you can’t show up to court and believe that telling the truth is going to be enough. While honesty is important, it’s definitely not enough. However, you can represent yourself in any court; not just the small claims court. Most people try to represent themselves in this setting because they think it’s the easiest place to win. Did you consider that the laws out there can protect the other party as well? What if they have a licensed paralegal in their corner? This could definitely spell trouble if you’re only representing yourself. We’ve seen several people come through our doors over the years who failed miserably at representing themselves. Often times it’s because they don’t have the money to hire a paralegal. This is understandable, but it’s well worth investing in one because over the long haul they could save you thousands upon thousands of dollars if you win the case. It’s a small price to pay in the beginning for seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Before you hire a lawyer, make sure you check Melissa Weber website, she is aparalegal toronto that specializes in the GTA area