Small Claims Court: A Test for Mandatory Mediation



Will mediation become a required step in small claims cases?  Maybe!

A pilot project takes a step in this direction. It starts on May 15 in the court regions of Gatineau and Terrebonne. This project, which might later include the whole province, reflects a new attitude toward the legal system.


What Is Mandatory Mediation in Small Claims Court? 

Mediation is already offered for free in most cases and regions. But people are free to use it or not.

Mediation is a process that people use to negotiate a solution to a conflict. The goal of mediation is to solve the problem with the help of a mediator. The mediator doesn't take sides, and helps the parties talk through their problem. Mediation is usually faster and less expensive than going through the court process.

Under the Gatineau and Terrebonne pilot projects, mediation must be used in all small claims court cases involving contracts between consumers and merchants. The amount involved can't be more than $15,000.

The process will go this way:

  • A court clerk will inform people affected by the pilot project that they have to use mediation to solve their problem.
  • A lawyer or notary with special training in mediation contacts them.
  • They attend a mediation meeting.

People can ask for permission to skip mediation if they have a serious reason

The case will only go to court if permission was given to skip mediation or mediation hasn't worked.


The video below explains the general mediation process:


A New Philosophy Toward the Law

This pilot project is part of changes meant to make the legal system more accessible and effective for everyone. The goal is to provide good services at low cost, settle problems within a reasonable time and encourage cooperation between the people involved.


Mediation for Everyone?

The pilot project in Gatineau and Terrebonne will last three years. If it's successful, mediation in small claims could be a required step all over Quebec.


For more information on small claims court (preparation, procedure, etc.) and other ways to settle disputes, see our guide Small Claims Court: Acting as Your Own Lawyer