When parties to a contract do not perform services or provide materials as agreed in a timely fashion, or when a party refuses or is unable to pay, the matter may proceed to court.
In Alberta, proceedings may be taken in the Provincial Court of Alberta which has jurisdiction to handle claims of less than $25,000.00, or in the Court of Queen’s Bench, which has jurisdiction for claims in excess of $25,000.00.
The Rules of Litigation governing the procedures which are to be followed differ in each court. The Provincial Court has more of a summary procedure which can see a matter progress to trial in six to eight months, while the Court of Queen’s Bench has a more formal procedure which often results in trials taking place only after two or more years.
Both courts have procedures for mediation of a dispute as well as a pre-trial conference before actually going to trial. Both courts also follow the basic principle that all information and evidence intended to be presented by either party must be disclosed in advance of the trial.
There is a Limitation Act applicable in Alberta, with the result of that all litigation for most types of claims must be instituted within two years from the date on which an aggrieved party became aware that he or she had a claim.
The successful party in a court action is usually entitled to costs, which are always in the discretion of the Judge, and are intended to assist the successful party in the reimbursement of costs incurred, except where otherwise determine by the Judge are not usually meant to fully indemnify the successful party.
Once a Judgment has been obtained, if the Defendant does not pay the amounts found due, the successful party has the ability to seize assets of the Defendant in order to satisfy the Judgment. The Defendant is entitled to exemptions from seizure in an amount prescribed by law. There is no jail for debtors in Alberta, and Judgment can only be collected against debtor’s assets.
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