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. Self represented parties always include too much information or not enough information in their claim or defence! This comes with a lack of understanding for what the court needs to see in your legal documents, and what they do not need to see (or do not want to see). Most self-represented parties often include far too much detail in their narrative. We often see a four or five page description of the events surrounding a case, which is not only far too much information, but can be extremely frustrating for the judge (who we try not to irritate, especially at the outset of the case). On the other hand, self-represented parties also leave out pertinent details of the narrative. For example, when suing for a breach of contract, a self-represented party often goes in to great detail about how much they have paid to the other party and when they made each payment, however; they often leave out the most important detail of all – that being, the original agreed upon amount of the contract. A licensed paralegal will have the knowledge and skill set to narrow down the issues and present your case clearly and effectively to the judge. Part of our strategy is to draft effective pleadings to convince the judge of why you should win your case, even before appearing in a 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. Representing Yourself may mean you don’t know the Rules of Small Claims Court. Do you really know how many rules that come into play in a small claims court? There are several, and you have to consider all the other parts such as; forms, service, timelines, evidence, and tons of other variables. It’s an overwhelming process and we haven’t even started the trial yet. When you represent yourself it’s a hundred times worse, especially if you don’t understand everything. Take for instance the 30 day deadline to provide documents to the other party’s attorney. Those who aren’t aware of this deadline and miss it will have all kinds of issues during the proceedings. Anything that isn’t turned in accordingly could be inadmissible in court. One of those documents or pieces of evidence could be the difference in whether you win or lose. Then of course it could also cause delays if the judge does let them into the trial. This gives time for the other attorney to go over the information. Once you utilize a licensed paralegal you will notice that they are much more fluent in the rules of a small claims court. This alone can provide you with a much better decision, and hopefully one that is in your favor.
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