Entrepreneurship & Small Business

GVR - recommendations for a lawyer to assist with collecting small debt

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[OP]
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Oct 7, 2007
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GVR - recommendations for a lawyer to assist with collecting small debt

Someone close to me is trying to collect on a small debt that originated from small business activities. The debt is in the range of $5k and the action has been started in small claims. However, legal assistance is needed to take this to the next step. Does anyone know of any reputable, results-oriented lawyers in the GVR area who have experience in this area and whose rates might be suitable for this type of work?

Any recommendations are most appreciated. Thanks.
9 replies
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Mar 23, 2008
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Hiring a lawyer to claim 5k will probably end up in you breaking even, or making next to nothing in terms of collection after lawyer fees are paid.

I suggest you do some research on small claims procedures as it is not hard at all.
[OP]
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Oct 7, 2007
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NEMESIS_2008 wrote: Hiring a lawyer to claim 5k will probably end up in you breaking even, or making next to nothing in terms of collection after lawyer fees are paid.

I suggest you do some research on small claims procedures as it is not hard at all.
Thanks for the suggestion. You are right....legal fees for a lot of lawyers are out of this world. We thought maybe RFD might be a good way to get a referral for a lawyer that is knowledgeable but also charges a reasonable price.

Small claims procedures on the surface appear to be straightforward. However, the small claims systems seems to be really flaky and unpredictable. Even when a person thinks they have a really solid position on something straightforward, I have seen things go in favour of the person who is on the dishonourable side of the transaction.
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Aug 2, 2010
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choclover wrote: Thanks for the suggestion. You are right....legal fees for a lot of lawyers are out of this world. We thought maybe RFD might be a good way to get a referral for a lawyer that is knowledgeable but also charges a reasonable price.

Small claims procedures on the surface appear to be straightforward. However, the small claims systems seems to be really flaky and unpredictable. Even when a person thinks they have a really solid position on something straightforward, I have seen things go in favour of the person who is on the dishonourable side of the transaction.
The SCC system is not flaky and upredictable really. and is straightforward both on the surface and if you dig deep. I've been there a few times and won every time on an unpaid invoice. The proceedings are informal, the SCC judge does not hold the plaintiff to the strict requirements of higher levels of court and they also do not take kindly to unpaid invoices.

All you need to do is set out your case in plain english, supply evidence that the work was done, that an invoice was issued and according to an agreement that was made and that it remains unpaid even though you have proof you tried to collect it. Easy peasy.

As for lawyers charging a reasonable price for SCC work, think about it. To prepare the case, get it filed, served, etc. could easily take 10 hours or more. Then the SCC case could get adjourned but the lawyer still has to attend for that and then re-attend. Then there is the time waiting for the case to be heard. Even at a modest and very reasonable $150/hour (do any lawyers charge this little these days for civil trials?) with the hours ticking away a substantial portion of your $5K could be eaten away. Also, remember when you win you still have to collect. Winning in court does not mean you will get paid. If they simply do not pay you and many do not even if they lose, you then have to file a writ with the Sheriff, try to garnishee their bank account and perhaps wait years to get paid.

The SCC system was designed to allow mere mortals to sue without having to employ lawyers.
[OP]
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Oct 7, 2007
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eonibm wrote: The SCC system is not flaky and upredictable really. and is straightforward both on the surface and if you dig deep. I've been there a few times and won every time on an unpaid invoice. The proceedings are informal, the SCC judge does not hold the plaintiff to the strict requirements of higher levels of court and they also do not take kindly to unpaid invoices.

All you need to do is set out your case in plain english, supply evidence that the work was done, that an invoice was issued and according to an agreement that was made and that it remains unpaid even though you have proof you tried to collect it. Easy peasy.

As for lawyers charging a reasonable price for SCC work, think about it. To prepare the case, get it filed, served, etc. could easily take 10 hours or more. Then the SCC case could get adjourned but the lawyer still has to attend for that and then re-attend. Then there is the time waiting for the case to be heard. Even at a modest and very reasonable $150/hour (do any lawyers charge this little these days for civil trials?) with the hours ticking away a substantial portion of your $5K could be eaten away. Also, remember when you win you still have to collect. Winning in court does not mean you will get paid. If they simply do not pay you and many do not even if they lose, you then have to file a writ with the Sheriff, try to garnishee their bank account and perhaps wait years to get paid.

The SCC system was designed to allow mere mortals to sue without having to employ lawyers.
Thanks for the insight. The claim has already been filed with the courts and both parties agreed to a payment plan that was for less than the full amount owing. However, now the defendant (and debtor) has missed making one of the payments so the matter needs to go back in front of a judge. We were thinking that it may be more effective for a lawyer to handle this part so that if a garnish or something similar is needed, the lawyer will know how best to achieve this.
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choclover wrote: Thanks for the insight. The claim has already been filed with the courts and both parties agreed to a payment plan that was for less than the full amount owing. However, now the defendant (and debtor) has missed making one of the payments so the matter needs to go back in front of a judge. We were thinking that it may be more effective for a lawyer to handle this part so that if a garnish or something similar is needed, the lawyer will know how best to achieve this.
You can garnishee just as easily as a lawyer can. There is not less or more effective way to do it other than knowing where the bank accounts are and asking the Sheriff to execute on the writ. The lawyer does not know where the bank accounts are. You do.

A lot of this info I am giving you is available by doing a simple google search but you seem to be intent on wasting your money on one so I suggest you do that.
[OP]
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Oct 7, 2007
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eonibm wrote: You can garnishee just as easily as a lawyer can. There is not less or more effective way to do it other than knowing where the bank accounts are and asking the Sheriff to execute on the writ. The lawyer does not know where the bank accounts are. You do.

A lot of this info I am giving you is available by doing a simple google search but you seem to be intent on wasting your money on one so I suggest you do that.
Thanks for your insight. I am not really intent on getting a lawyer but I do want results. I am not very impressed with our SCC system but maybe this is because the outcomes always seem contrary to common sense and the law. I haven't had any luck finding a suitable lawyer for this so maybe this will be a DIY matter. I just don't want it to turn into some kind of nightmare as I've seen in the past.

P.S. I have personally seen a handful of examples of people clearly violating SCC rules and then instead of paying the price for it getting rewarded by getting away with it. For example, on two completely separate occasions I have seen one of the parties not follow the rules of court-mandated mediation and get away with it.
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A lawyer won't ensure that won't happen. It happens in every level of court.
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Aug 28, 2007
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Calgary
The world is not a fair place. SCC will not change that. I'd say you've already spent more than $5K in emotional capital on this (if not financial capital too). You should really move on with your business venture... focus instead on plans to grow more revenue. Consider whatever led to this $5K loss as a learning experience, so you don't repeat it. Consider that you'd pay at least that amount to attend a week long training course. Perhaps $5k is a lot of money to you right now, but if you grew your business to it's next million, then $5k will seem like pocket change. You will certainly sleep better at night if you don't have to think about this anymore, and you've probably already realized sub-consciously that you'll never see that money no matter what you do..

If you consider your life to be analogous to an elaborate game in which you are living. If you leave the field of play to chase things like this SCC claim in the bathroom, it means you aren't on the field playing the game and scoring points.
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Mar 20, 2009
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I would agree with eonibm: the SCC system is not generally difficult to use or haphazard in results, and a lawyer is an expensive and unnecessary substitute for doing your own work and research. It is time-consuming, which is the main argument against SCC for most minor cases.

There are two main reasons why many people are not successful and end up frustrated with the outcome:

1. You need to know the minimum basics of law and contracts if that's the basis of your claim, and be prepared to present a valid case on that basis. Too many people are ignorant of the actual law they think should apply, and don't bother to do the most basic research to verify their understanding.

2. You must have valid evidence, i.e., documents and/or statements from independent witnesses. While the rules of evidence are relaxed in SCC, judges make judgements based on evidence. Your unsupported word against someone else's is not evidence. Lacking documents that should be there, such as signed contracts or cashed cheques, is not very convincing.

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