Frequently Asked Questions
Why hire U-SUE versus filing myself or hiring a lawyer?
U-SUE is a group of Small Claims Court Agents, who have handled over 30,000 matters during the last 32 years in Calgary and throughout Alberta. Our fee is a one-time fee based on the claim amount, making it cost efficient, and most if not all is usually recovered back. We guarantee that the fee paid to us is all inclusive, with no hidden charges. You know exactly what it costs.
When you hire U-SUE, as your Agent we can claim back what is known as "Party to Party Costs". The courts know that we charged a fee for our service therefore will grant costs to offset your costs. Costs that are awarded back in court are usually calculated on a percentage basis between 5 - 10% of the Judgment amount - for each 1/2 day of trial. These "party to party" costs are determined by the Judge. Sometimes the Judge awards costs that are higher than what you paid U-SUE!
Our success rate is very high as we take on only those cases that we believe the chances of winning are great.
Our best clients are those that have done a Small Claims Court action themselves in past or with the use of a lawyer.
Before you initiate a court action yourself without the use of an agent or a lawyer, do take in consideration that time is valuable and more likely best spent doing what you do, and allow us to do what we do.
Lawyers charge by the hour so you have no idea what it will cost, and because the amounts claimed are $50,000.00 or under it usually is not a cost efficient option. (In fact, some lawyers even use U-SUE to sue on their behalf for debts owed to them - lawyers also refer people / companies to us)
If I am being sued can I hire U-SUE to defend me?
Yes, U-SUE also defends those that are being sued if you have a valid reason for not paying the debt or damages claimed. Or if you do owe money possibly have a counterclaim that offsets the money you owe the Plaintiff. However, if U-SUE believes the chances of success in court is not favourable U-SUE will negotiate a settlement and payment plan if required - subject to the client's approval ... usually saving the client money, time and stress.
Can U-SUE provide me with legal advice?
U-SUE is not a law firm. U-SUE can not provide legal advice. It may be necessary to get legal advice from a lawyer and if that is the case we can refer you to lawyers that over the years we have worked with who will provide you with legal advice at a discounted rate or sometimes even at no charge.
What if the debt owing is more than $50,000?
If the debt is for more than $50,000 on one invoice then the amount would have to be "abandoned" whereby you give up the right to sue for more then the $50,000. The Small Claims Court monetary maximum amount is $50,000 in Alberta.
If the debt is $60,000, it may be better to "write off" $10,000 (this is called "abandonment") to keep it in Small Claims Court. You would most likely spend that much or even more in legal costs suing in Court of Queen's Bench. This is the alternative court. As U-SUE is not a law firm and have no lawyers on staff, we can not appear in Court of Queens Bench.
However, if there are a number of invoices when added up that exceed the $50,000, it may be possible to file a claim by combining the invoices up to the $50,000 limit and sue on the remaining invoices in another claim. The invoices would have to be separate services. For example, you might be a painter and you painted a house for a contractor and invoiced $ 30,000. Then you paint another house for $30,000. These are 2 separate matters and most likely could be sued in 2 separate actions but at the same time. U-SUE can help you make that determination.
You have only 2 years from the date the debt became due, or 2 years from the last date of payment, or 2 years from the date of written acknowledgment by the debtor of the debt owing. HOWEVER, if you are past the 2 years you can still sue but if the Defendant raises the 2 year limitation as a defence the chances are high that you would be unsuccessful. But don't write this off without first speaking with us. There may be some suggestions we could offer.
How much time do I have to file a claim?
IF I HAVE ONLY A VERBAL AGREEMENT, CAN I STILL SUE ?
Yes you can. However your claim may be more difficult to prove. It depends on many variables. For example, you might not have a written agreement signed by the other party, but perhaps you have texts or emails or a witness that can back up your claim. There are many variables to this situation. U-SUE can help you make that determination.
Yes, there are ways of tracking people down but we are limited as this area is not our expertise. One must be mindful of the 2 year limitation period. If necessary the claim could be filed before the 2 years are up. U-SUE would then have one year to "serve" the claim upon the Defendant. During this time U-SUE can try and locate the Defendant. If not able to serve the claim within one year an application can be made by U-SUE in Court to seek an Order granting an extension of time to serve the Defendant.
Alternatively, an application can be made to seek a "Substitutional Order" from the Court allowing U-SUE to serve the claim upon the Defendant by other means. For example, placing an advertisement in the Legal Notice section of the newspaper, by email or services like Facebook.
However, as indicated above we are limited in skip tracing techniques and tools. We are not a professional skip tracing facility. There are companies that specialize in this area. Should our attempts of locating the Defendant be unsuccessful, the client is provided the option of engaging a skip tracing / private investigation company we recommend.
I don't know where the debtor is. Would U-SUE still be able to sue for me?
U-SUE provides updates by email or fax on a timely basis as it occurs. All documents that are filed and received from with the court, all documents sent and received from the opposing party are provided to the client. All updates to our clients are sent with a cover letter explaining in simple english what is going on and when to expect to hear from us next.
How am I updated on the progress of the claim ?
We recommend that questions and concerns be emailed to us in a clear concise manner. This way we are able to respond with an answer, print and put a copy in your file. You would also have a record for your file to refer to if need be rather than rely on memory.
Or if you prefer - simply call or text the agent you wish to speak with.
Once I engage the services of U-SUE how do we communicate if I have a question or concern?
U-SUE guarantees that the one-time fee charged is inclusive of all disbursements, all services required, including attendance at all court appearances at no extra charge. Subject to terms and conditions in our contract.