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Small Claims Limit in PEI Doubles – Impact on Access to Justice and Employers

Small claims section of the Supreme Court is the court for actions where the debt of damages do not exceed a set limit. For the first time in 20 years, Prince Edward Island, the province with the lowest small claims limit in Canada, increased the limit. In July 2017 the province doubled the small claims limit from $8,000 to $16,000. The province sought input surrounding the increase from several organizations, including the judiciary, the legal community, the Law Society of Prince Edward Island, the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the PEI Access to Justice Committee and the Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island.

The increase was made in the hope to improve access to justice for Islanders. The increase will allow individuals and businesses to resolve more claims in a speedy, less expensive and more simplified manner. Further, more complicated matters dealt with outside of the small claims process, will have access to more efficient resources that would have otherwise been depleted by small claims matters.

This increase also means that employers will likely see a boost in cases of employees seeking restitution for legal matters that may arise if employers are not complying with their legal requirements. Employers can expect small claims court actions to increase for breach of contract, wrongful dismissal cases and specific performance of employment agreement. These claims will still require employers to defend all of the same claims they would have faced in a higher court, with the same potential findings of liability, only it is at a lower cost for the employee to bring their claim and the cases will be dealt with more expeditiously.