Thinking of self-representing? Better think again.
Potential Pitfalls of the Self-Represented Litigant
There are a number of potential pitfalls people face when bringing claims on their own in either Small Claims Court or Superior Court when they are unfamiliar with the procedures of the court.
Bringing your claim against the correct party
Very often, people fail to bring claims against the correct party. They will name a person as the defendant even though their contract was with a corporation. Alternatively, they will fail to give the correct legal name of the corporation they are acting against. Unless you determine the correct name of the party you intend to bring a claim against, any subsequent judgment will be unenforceable.
Missing deadlines and filing incorrectly
A lack of familiarity with the Rules of the Small Claims Court or the Rules of Civil Procedure will be a detriment to the self-represented party. Very often, people will fail to file documents in the correct format required by the court. As well, deadlines can easily be missed for filing documents, which can lead to greater time and expense incurred. Missing deadlines can even lead to the dismissal of your case if you are not careful.
Finally, even if you receive a judgment, it is up to you to take the steps to enforce it, which can include having writs issued against the debtor’s property or garnishing their wages. However, if the other party is bankrupt, or if you do not know where their assets are located, this can prevent you from recovering the money owed to you, even if you have a judgment from the court.