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 Representers don't know the Law. Do you realize how hard it is for an individual who represents him or herself to take on an individual who has studied the law for years? It's like challenging Beethoven to play one of his favorite pieces. Plus, prosecuting attorneys love to throw rules and regulations your way when you aren't aware of them. One of the most important things you can have when it comes to a courtroom is the knowledge of legal arguments. If you don't know how to overcome objections you could end up with a losing judgment. Licensed paralegals know and understand how to argue a case accordingly. They can also provide the proper context that needs to be utilized throughout the trial. In fact, they will even notify the parties in advance about the arguments that will come to light. It gives you all the rights you deserve and will remedy the situation must better.
2. A self represented does not know the Rules of the Small Claims Court. The Small Claims Court is governed by, among other things, the Rules of the Small Claims Court. The Rules are quite lengthy and govern all aspects of a proceeding including forms, service, evidence, timelines, fees etc. A self-represented party will often find themselves overwhelmed by the rules of a proceeding, let alone the actual case itself. For example, the rules pertaining to evidence require all parties to exchange documents thirty days before trial, otherwise it may not be admissible in court. Many self-represented parties serve their evidence on the opposing party after the 30 day deadline, or sometimes they show up with the evidence at trial without having served it on the opposing party at all. Situations like this can be devastating to your case. The judge may not allow you to rely on evidence that has not been served properly, which may be fatal to you. The judge may also adjourn the trial to a new date in order to give the opposing party time to review the new evidence. This can cause a great deal of delay in a case and can frustrate the proceeding. A licensed paralegal will be fluent in the Rules of the Small Claims Court and will be in a much better position to move your matter forward in accordance with those rules. You will not experience the same amount of delay and overwhelming sense of confusion as you would if you were to be self-represented; your paralegal will explain each step to you and will take on the responsibility of complying with the rules, so you wont have to!
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.