The province is proposing to streamline the operation of the small claims court.
The Selinger government introduced a bill Monday it says will improve the court's ability to efficiently and effectively resolve monetary disputes under $10,000.
The proposed legislation would see the majority of these matters continue to be heard by small claims court officers to ensure access to justice can be achieved fairly, within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost, Justice Minister Andrew Swan said. Changes proposed under the Court of Queen's Bench Small Claims Practices Amendment Act would include:
- Allowing court officers and judges to admit into evidence anything considered relevant to the matter.
- Recording all evidence given at a hearing so the transcript is available for an appeal, if one occurs.
- Requiring court officers or judges to issue a summary of their reasons for a decision, which will help inform whether appeals are granted.
- Allowing appeals only on points of law or jurisdiction, with approval from the Court of Queen's Bench to proceed.
Disputes involving the provincial government or a government agency would continue to be heard by a Court of Queen's Bench judge instead of a small claims court officer. In these matters, appeals would be heard by the Manitoba Court of Appeal.