Tips for Self Represented Litigants

Tips for Preparing Your Civil Case

It is very important to be prepared for your case, which means knowing the facts, doing legal research, and following the correct procedures and rules. Here are some suggestions:

  1. The rules. You must follow the same rules that a lawyer must follow. If you fail to follow the rules, you may permanently lose important rights. Cases in the Supreme Court and Appeal Court use the Civil Procedure Rules. In the Family Court the Family Court Rules are used. Probate Court follows the probate court practice, procedure and forms regulations.
  2. Do not attempt to speak privately with a judge. The judge may only speak to you when both you and the person on the other side of your case are present or given the chance to appear at a hearing.
  3. Forms are printed documents with spaces where you can insert information. Many forms are available at the court's administration office and many of them can be found on the internet at Divorce kits can be purchased at the court administration office of the Supreme Court and at Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia.
  4. You may need to retype a form if your information does not fit in the blank spaces provided on it. Forms do not explain the law and may not provide all of the information necessary for the court to make a decision. Court staff can tell you what forms are used for a particular type of case but cannot tell you how to fill them out.
  5. File written documents at the court to make your requests known to the judge. The documents may be called actions, applications, petitions, affidavits, defences, and there are forms for all of these documents.
  6. When you file your forms at the court, the clerk will stamp them with the date on which they are filed. The court keeps the original, in most cases.
  7. Provide copies of the documents to the clerk at the court. The correct number of copies of the forms must be provided. Generally, you should provide one for each party, one for the court and one for yourself. If you need to make copies at the court, check with the court staff for the per page copy fee.
  8. Court fees are charged when you file your documents. Court staff can tell you what the fee will be. Personal cheques are accepted, as is cash or a money order. Some courts accept debit card and credit card payments. If you cannot afford to pay a court fee, you may apply for fee waiver using Form 1, Fee waivers are not available in Small Claims Court or Provincial Court. The financial eligibility criteria for this is in Schedule "C" (Court Fees) to the regulations respecting fees and allowances under the Costs and Fees Act. Court staff can help you to find a copy of this and Form I.
  9. Notifying the other person of your claim. You are responsible for notifying the other person that you have filed a case against them. You do this by ‘serving' the other person(s) in the case and giving the court proof that you have done so, in accordance with the applicable court rules.

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