The family law division of the Court of Queen’s Bench, provincial/small claims court, and the Court of Queen’s Bench hear civil cases in Canada. If you are unsure where to file a claim, contact an attorney or a clerk of the court near you.
Quick take: Alberta civil laws and procedures explained
- Alberta’s civil laws deal with disputes between private individuals or corporations.
- The Court of Queen’s Bench is superior to the provincial/small claims court.
- The court handles both criminal and civil cases.
- You may appeal Provincial Court rulings in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
- If you get served, failure to send a statement of defense may cause the court to assume liability.
What laws come under civil law in Alberta?
Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench and provincial courts handle civil disputes between private individuals/businesses and negligent acts that cause harm to others. For example, if your employer wrongfully dismisses you, you may file a claim in either court, depending on the amount you seek.
In civil proceedings, the court cannot find a defendant guilty. Instead, if the claimant can prove his claim, the defendant becomes liable.
In short, you need to remember that the term “civil case” refers to a private case where one sues the other. Unlike criminal cases, the accused will not face prosecution under the criminal code of Canada or the controlled substance act.
How does the civil litigation process work in Alberta?
Suppose a person suffers emotional, financial, or physical injury on your property or because of your actions/negligence. That person may file a claim in a Provincial Court or at the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Stages of a civil suit in Alberta
Before trial, the parties have the option to settle the claim through mediation or a pre-trial conference. If the claim goes to court, the process begins with:
During this stage, the plaintiff/ claimant:
- Files a complaint against the defendant/accused.
- The complaint must contain an allegation and remedy for the ‘injury’ suffered.
- Serve the claim.
- If the defendant does not send a statement of defense, the court assumes that the allegations are true (you may lose by default if you do not reply).
Tip: the two sides may reach an agreement at this stage.
Before trial, each party will have an opportunity to examine the evidence and clarify the claims. If the court finds enough evidence and negotiations fail, the matter will move to trial.
During the trial, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. You must prove:
- The allegation against the defendant is true.
- The defendant caused the damages.
If the court finds the defendant liable, the judge may order the remedies below, considering the facts, the requested remedies, and how to compensate the claimant. Depending on the facts, the court may also order punitive damages. That said. The remedies for civil cases in Alberta include:
- Monetary remedies. The court may consider the expenses incurred by the claimant.
- The court may prescribe certain activities (injunctions).
Canadian civil laws explained: What is the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta?
Under provincial laws, Alberta’s small claims court/Provincial Court hears and adjudicates claims in the province amounting to less than $50000. Compared to the Court of Queen’s Bench, court of appeal, federal courts, and the supreme court of Canada. Alberta’s Provincial Court is a less expensive alternative and you do not need a lawyer, although one is recommended.
What if you decide to sue for more than $50000?
Provincial laws say that provincial courts cannot hear any claim above $50000. However, the claimant has the option to “abandon” any amount above the set limit. If you decide to do that, you may file your claim at a provincial court.
What civil cases does the queen’s bench division deal with?
If you intend to file a claim valued at $50000 or more, you must do it at the Court of Queen’s Bench. In Alberta, the queen’s bench’s court hears and adjudicates civil and criminal matters. Just like provincial courts, you may or may not need a lawyer.
We recommend getting a lawyer if:
- The judge recommends it.
- You have problems with public speaking.
- You cannot handle the paperwork.
What does the Court of Queen’s Bench do in Alberta?
In civil matters, the court hears and adjudicates:
- Personal injury claims
- Bankruptcy and insolvency cases
- Litigation involving wills and estates.
- Appeals from provincial courts
The court also has the power to try summary and indictable offenses, including;
- Conspiracy to commit an offense
- Drug trafficking
How to appeal Provincial Court decisions in Edmonton, Alberta
Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench is superior to the provincial court. Because of that, you may appeal a judgment made in provincial court.
When you file an appeal, the court reviews and then reverses or changes the decisions made in the provincial court. Remember, the burden of proof is on the applicant, meaning you must show the court that the previous judge or decision-maker made an error that affected the outcome of your case.
To appeal a decision or ruling made in a provincial court, you should:
- Fill out a notice of appeal.
- Order a copy of the original court hearing transcript
- Send both copies and payment receipt to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
- Serve the appeal to the respondent.
- Attend the initial court appearance and the appeal hearing.
How to file a claim in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton, Alberta
Under provincial laws, you must commence any legal action amounting to more than $50000 within two years. Failure to commence an action may grant immunity to the defendant.
To begin. You must submit a statement that outlines the nature of the claim, the allegations against the defendant, the amount you seek, and the facts establishing the claim. Once you file a claim at the Court of Queen’s Bench, you have 12 months to serve it to the defendant.
When serving, the court allows you to:
- Post a notice on the defendant’s front door
- Use a process server
- Send through recorded mail
- Serve the document through anyone who has direct contact with the respondent.
What to do if you get served in Alberta
Under provincial laws, you have twenty days to send a Demand of Notice or Statement of Defense. If the defendant is from outside Alberta, the individual or organization has 30 days to send either of the documents. You may also have a counterclaim. Sending a counterclaim makes the applicant a “Defendant by Counter Claim.” A defendant by counterclaim also has twenty days to send a counterclaim or statement of defense.
What to remember:
- If you are a defendant and there is a codefendant from whom you seek indemnity or contribution, you have twenty days to file and serve a “Notice of Claim against Co-defendant.”
- A claimant/ plaintiff may file a reply within ten days after receiving a statement of defense.
- The documents above are known as ‘proceedings.’
Alberta Rules of court section 3.30 “reply to defense and demand for notice reads, quote:
“A defendant who is served with a statement of claim may do one or more of the following: (a) apply to the Court to set aside service in accordance with rule 11.31 [Setting aside service]; (b) apply to the Court for an order under rule 3.68 [Court options to deal with significant deficiencies]; (c) file and serve a statement of defense or demand for notice.”
Rule 11.31 says that you may apply to set aside, quote: “(a) service of a commencement document, (b) an order for substitutional service of a commencement document, or (c) an order dispensing with service of a commencement document.”
You may also:
“A defendant may do one or more of the following: (a) file a claim against a co-defendant in accordance with rule 3.43 [How to make a claim against co-defendants]; (b) file a third-party claim in accordance with rule 3.44 [When a third-party claim may be filed]; (c) file a counterclaim in accordance with rule 3.56 (Right to counterclaim).”
Tip: the process can get convoluted, so we recommend working with an attorney.
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