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In Small Claims Court, you will either wind up with a reasonable settlement, or a reasonable judgment!

Small Claims Court is a great tool for settling disputes, but that does not mean you have to go through the process to get results. Reasonable people reach reasonable settlements, especially with the help of professionals, and a lot of money can be saved on both sides if the court process is avoided.

Take The Ottawa Hospital for example. Michael Harris received a cheque for $672.80 from the institution three years ago. There was no explanation on the cheque stub, so he figured the cheque was additional pay for a medical trial he had done. In reality, the hospital finance department had made an error. The cheque was meant for another Michael Harris, a nurse at the hospital.

Harris wanted his $42.50 in NSF bank fees back. He figured the institution would negotiate rather than hire a lawyer to defend the claim. He was wrong. The hospital hired a law firm and wound up with $3,900 in legal costs.

Even after a settlement conference where a judge suggested the hospital pay back the $42.50 plus a court filing fee for a total of $125, the parties still couldn’t come to an agreement.

In the end, Harris won the case. The judge awarded him $525, bringing the hospitals costs over $4,400.
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