If you lose your case in small claims court, you must pay the amount of the judgment. Normally you have 30 days to pay. You’ll be charged interest if you don’t pay within this time limit. Worse still, your salary or property could be seized.
You must pay within the time limit provided
The time limit for paying is clearly indicated in the notice of judgment you received from the court. This period is usually 30 days. If a judgment is made against you by default, you only have 10 days to pay. You could be charged interest on the amount of the judgment until you pay the entire amount.
Pay the other party directly and keep your proof of payment
You can pay the full amount of the judgment directly to the other party. Different methods of payment are allowed, for example:
- certified cheque
- bank draft
Whichever payment method you use, make sure you have proof of payment and obtain an acquittance (release) from the other party. An acquittance is a document in which the other party acknowledges that you have paid and that you don’t owe them any more money under the judgment.
Pay in several instalments if the other party agrees
If you’re not able to pay the total amount within the time limit, you can ask the other party whether you can pay in several instalments. However, the other party doesn’t have to agree to this type of arrangement.
If the parties agree to instalment payments, it’s very important to prepare a document that clearly explains this agreement. This document is a contract and must be signed by all parties. The document must include the following information:
- amount of each instalment
- number and frequency of instalments (including specific dates if possible)
- whether interest applies to the payments
- consequences if the instalments aren’t paid (for example, you might have to pay the entire amount at once)
It’s a good idea to consult a notary or lawyer before writing or signing a document like this.
What to do if your property or salary is seized because you haven’t paid
If you don’t pay within the time limit given in the judgment, the other party can have your salary or other property seized by a bailiff. In this situation, the bailiff’s fees will be added to the other amounts you have to pay. You can contest the seizure in certain situations, for example, if the property falls under an exception and is exempt from seizure.
If you want to oppose a seizure, you must file your request at the court office. Then you must present your arguments before the court, where a judge will rule on your reasons for opposing the seizure. In most situations, if you oppose the seizure in court, the bailiff must stop the seizure temporarily.
For more information: Opposition to seizure following a decision at the Small Claims division (Justice Québec).
Voluntary deposit to avoid seizure
Voluntary deposit is something you can do to avoid seizure of your salary or property. In other words, you deposit part of your income with the court office to pay your creditors. At a minimum, you must deposit the amount of money that would be subtracted from your pay if your salary were seized. Your creditors can’t seize your salary or property if you make regular deposits through the court office.
For more information: Voluntary Deposit