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Province moves to streamline small claims court

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The province is proposing to streamline the operation of the small claims court.

The Selinger government introduced a bill Monday to improve the court’s ability to efficiently and effectively resolve monetary disputes under $10,000.

The proposed legislation would see the majority of these matters continuing to be heard by small claims court officers to ensure access to justice can be achieved fairly, within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost, Justice Minister Andrew Swan said. Changes proposed under the Court of Queen’s Bench Small Claims Practices Amendment Act would include:

— allowing court officers and judges to admit into evidence anything considered relevant to the matter;

— recording all evidence given at a hearing so the transcript is available for an appeal, if one occurs;

— requiring court officers or judges to issue a summary of their reasons for a decision, which will help inform whether appeals are granted; and

— allowing appeals only on points of law or jurisdiction, with approval from the Court of Queen’s Bench to proceed.

Disputes involving the provincial government or a government agency would continue to be heard by a Court of Queen’s Bench judge instead of a small claims court officer. In these matters, appeals would be heard by the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

Manitoba’s small claims court hears about 4,000 matters every year. For more information about small claims court, visit www.manitobacourts.mb.ca.

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