If You Are Being Sued

Choices you have
   Negotiate a settlement
   Pay the claim
   File a dispute note
   Notice of Hearing

View this flowchart for an overview of the civil claim process.

If someone has filed a Civil Claim against you, you are called the defendant. You will receive a Civil Claim which tells why you are being sued, by whom, and for how much.

Ignoring the Civil Claim will not make it go away. When you receive a Civil Claim, you must take action. You must either settle the Civil Claim or file a Dispute Note.

Choices You Have
Negotiate a settlement
If you feel that you do owe some money to the other party (who is called the plaintiff), but not as much as claimed, offer what you feel is reasonable. If you are unable to pay it all at once, try to arrange a repayment plan with the plaintiff or arrange a payment hearing through the court office. Remind the other party that, by compromising, the time and expense of going to court will be avoided. If an agreement is reached, the
plaintiff should also immediately inform the court office in writing that the matter has been settled, or complete and file a Notice of Withdrawal. This form can also be obtained at any court office.

Pay the claim
You can pay the Civil Claim and costs directly to the plaintiff or to the court. Payment to the court office must be made by cash, certified cheque, money order, or debit card where available. Obtain a receipt. A court appearance will not be necessary if you choose this option.

File a Dispute Note
If you feel that there are some facts in your favour, do not be reluctant to defend yourself. You do this by completing the form called a Dispute Note and delivering it personally, or by mail or by fax where available, to the court office where the Civil Claim was filed within 20 days of being served the Civil Claim (30 days if served outside Alberta). The court office must receive the Dispute Note within the 20- or 30-day time limit.
Upon receipt of a valid Dispute Note, the court office will set an appearance date and notify all parties by mail.

You may include in the Dispute Note any counterclaim you may have against the plaintiff if you feel that the plaintiff owes you money. For example, the plaintiff may claim that you caused the accident which damaged the plaintiff's car. Your car was also damaged in the accident and you think that the plaintiff caused the accident. The judge will look at both claims at the same time and decide who owes money to whom.

If you do not have a legitimate reason for disputing a claim, filing a Dispute Note may result in increased costs to you.

Do not send books, papers, or other material relating to this matter with your Dispute Note.

What's the next step?
Once you file a Dispute note, your matter may be scheduled for an appearance for mediation, pre-trial conference, or trial.

The appearance will be held at the courthouse nearest to:

  • where the cause of action arose; or
  • the place where the defendant or one of the codefendants
    resided or carried on business at the time the
    Civil Claim was issued.