As of June 1st, 2017, there will be two important changes for those considering bringing lawsuits in the small claims division of the BC provincial court.
The most significant change is an increase in the limit of what is recoverable in small claims lawsuits. Currently, a plaintiff in a small claims action may not recover more than $25,000 in damages. Any lawsuit seeking more than this amount must be commenced in the BC Supreme Court. However, as of June 1, 2017, this $25,000 limit will increase to $35,000. This is the first increase to the small claims limit since 2005, when it was increased from $10,000 to the current $25,000.
The second change will apply to lawsuits seeking $5,000 in damages or less. With a few exceptions, effective June 1, 2017, it will be mandatory for actions seeking $5,000 or less to be heard through the Civil Resolution Tribunal, a new, online dispute resolution tribunal.
These changes will have the effect of increasing the amount of damages that can be sought in small claims cases, making it more economical to get a lawyer involved at an early stage to try to resolve claims within small claims jurisdiction.