I Have Been Served with a Civil Claim, What Do I Do?

Can I negotiate a settlement?

Yes. If the Civil Claim is settled, the action is resolved and you will not need to go to Court.

I want to pay the Claim, what do I need to do?

You can pay the Plaintiff directly or choose to pay the money into Court. Payment into Court will have to include all monies claimed by the Plaintiff, including interest and costs.

If you pay the Plaintiff directly, make sure to make a receipt that includes the date, amounts and signatures of all parties involved. A Notice of Withdrawal should be filed with the Court once money has cleared the bank.

If you pay the money into Court; the clerks’ office will send the Plaintiff a Notice of Payment and Statement of Acceptance / Refusal. The Plaintiff has 30 days to respond by either accepting or refusing the offer to settle.

Acceptance: Once the Acceptance has been received and after the money has cleared the bank, the clerks’ office will send a cheque to the Plaintiff and will include a Notice of Withdrawal for the Plaintiff to complete and file. It may take up to 4-5 weeks for the Plaintiff to receive the cheque.

Refusal: If a Refusal is received by the clerks’ office or if the Plaintiff fails to respond within the 30 days, the money will be returned to you and the action will continue and you will be notified of the next step in the process.

If the Plaintiff refuses to accept the settlement and proceeds to trial, and is not awarded a sum greater than the amount paid into Court, the Plaintiff may be responsible to pay you the costs incurred after the payment into Court was made.

For more specific information on costs review the section Judgment and Court Costs.

What happens if I agree I owe the amount claimed in the Civil Claim but cannot afford to pay?

Your options are:

  1. You can settle with the Plaintiff directly.
  2. You may consent to a Judgment. You will need to obtain the consent of the Plaintiff and all parties will be required to sign a Consent Judgment and provide it to the clerks’ office for the signature of a Judge.
  3. You can file a Dispute Note that indicates that you agree you owe the amount claimed in the Civil Claim. It is likely that the Court would then order that Judgment be issued against you.

Once a Judgment has been entered against you, you can apply to Court for a Judge to decide a payment plan that you will have to follow to pay out the Judgment. This is called a Payment Hearing and you will need to file an Application and an Affidavit in Support of a Payment Hearing. The Clerks’ office will schedule a date and time for the Payment Hearing and you will need to serve these documents on the Plaintiff at least 7 days before the scheduled hearing. Your Affidavit in Support of a Payment Hearing requires you disclose all relevant financial details, such as: bank accounts, property owned (including cars, recreational vehicles or land), employment, income and expenses as well as the payment proposal including dates and frequency of payments.  

There is a filing fee for the Application.

For detailed information and step by step instructions review the Application, Affidavit in Support of a Payment Hearing and Affidavit of Service of Non-Commencement Documents.

What happens if I do not pay the claim or file a Dispute Note?

Ignoring the Civil Claim will not make it go away and it is likely that the Plaintiff will apply for Judgment against you. If successful, the Court will issue a Certificate of Default Judgment which the Plaintiff may file in Court of Queen’s Bench which allows them to take collection proceedings against you. A Judgment may be reported to the credit bureau and affect your credit rating.

Collection proceedings may include but are not limited to, seizure of assets, registration against land (lien) and garnishment of your wages or bank accounts.

 For more information on collection processes contact the Court of Queen’s Bench.

I want to dispute the Claim, what do I need to do?

You have 20 days from the date you are served the Civil Claim in Alberta, or 30 days from the date you are served outside of Alberta to file a Dispute Note.

If the 20th day or 30th day is a weekend day, a Statutory Holiday or a day when the Provincial Court Office is closed, you will have until the close of business on the next business day to file your Dispute Note.

A Dispute Note may be filed after the expiry of the 20 day or 30 days period only if the Plaintiff has not filed a Request to Note in Default or a Request for Default Judgment.

Any party may contact the Provincial Court Office to determine what stage the Civil Claim is at in the Court process.

Note: If the Plaintiff obtained an Order for Substitutional Service, it will contain the specific number of days that you have to file your Dispute Note.

Nothing else is to be attached to the Dispute Note.

For detailed information and step by step instructions review the Dispute Note.

Where can I file the Dispute Note?

You may file your Dispute Note at any Provincial Court Office in Alberta, but it is recommended that you file it at the same Court location as identified on the Civil Claim. If you choose to file it at another court location, the Clerks’ office will fax it to the Court location identified on the Civil Claim after it has been filed and the filing fee has been paid.

Is there a fee to file my Dispute Note?

Yes. The filing fee varies based on the type of Dispute Note and if it contains a Counterclaim.

You may apply to waive the filing fee if you can show that you cannot pay because of financial hardship. A waiver will be effective for a period of 6 months.

If you are interested in applying for a fee waiver you will be required to produce supporting financial documents.  For more information, please see the guidelines outlined on the Fee Waiver Application or contact a Provincial Court Office.

How many copies of the Dispute Note will I need to bring for filing? 

You will be required to bring the following number of copies of the Dispute Note, along with the filing fee:

  • Original (which the Court will keep for the Court file)
  • Copy for your records
  • Copy for each named party

The Clerks’ office will send copies of the filed Dispute Note to the other parties.

Can I Counterclaim against the Plaintiff?

Yes, you may file a Dispute Note that contains a Counterclaim if you believe you are owed money by the Plaintiff.

There is a filing fee for filing a Dispute Note with a Counterclaim.

If you file a Dispute Note with a Counterclaim, you become known as a Plaintiff by Counterclaim and are responsible for proving your Counterclaim.

No documents should be attached to the Dispute Note and Counterclaim.

For detailed information and step by step instructions review the Dispute Note with Counterclaim.

Can I file a Counterclaim against someone else? What do I do?

Yes. In some cases, you may bring in a new party to the action on your Dispute Note and Counterclaim.  This is called adding a Defendant by Counterclaim.  If you have added a new party as a Defendant by Counterclaim you are required to serve the Dispute Note and Counterclaim on that new party within 30 days of the Dispute Note and Counterclaim being filed. The other defendants by Counterclaim who are not new parties to the action do not have to be served as the clerks’ office will send them a filed copy.  For detailed information and step by step instructions see the Affidavit of Service of Commencement Documents.

In other cases, you may file a claim against another person if you believe you not responsible for the Civil Claim against you. This is called a Third Party Claim.

It is recommended that you get legal advice if you want to add a new Defendant by Counterclaim or file a Third Party Claim as the action may become complex.

See Links, Videos and Legal Resources for more help.

What if my Counterclaim is for more than the allowable limit of $50,000?

If your Counterclaim is more than $50,000, you can choose to drop the extra amount, referred to as abandonment, or choose to apply to transfer the Provincial Court Civil Claim to the Court of Queen's Bench. There is a filing fee for this application. For more information contact the Provincial Court Office.

How many copies of the Dispute Note and Counterclaim will I need to bring for filing if I have added a new party? 

You will be required to bring the following number of copies of the Dispute Note and Counterclaim, along with the filing fee:

  • Original (which the Court will keep for the Court File)
  • Copy for your records
  • Copy for each named party
  • Copy for each new party served for the Affidavit of Service of Commencement Documents

NOTE: The clerks at the Provincial Court Office will send copies of the filed Dispute Note and Counterclaim to any existing party.

The clerks’ office will return copies of the filed Dispute Note and Counterclaim to you for you to serve on each new party added as a Defendant by Counterclaim. You are required to serve any new party with a filed copy of Dispute Note and Counterclaim and a blank form of Dispute Note to Counterclaim Civil Claim. After you have served the documents you are required to complete and file an Affidavit of Service of Commencement Documents.

How long does the Plaintiff have to dispute my Counterclaim?  

If the Counterclaim is against the Plaintiff only, the Plaintiff does not need to file a Dispute Note to the Counterclaim, unless they choose to do so. If a Dispute Note to Counterclaim is filed, the Provincial Court Office will send you a filed copy.

The new party added by Counterclaim has 20 days from the date they are served in Alberta, or 30 days from the date they are served outside of Alberta to file a Dispute Note to the Counterclaim.

If the 20th day or 30th day is a weekend day, a Statutory Holiday or a day when the Provincial Court Office is closed, they will have until the close of business on the next business day to file their Dispute Note to Counterclaim.

Dispute Note to Counterclaim may be filed after the expiry of the 20 day or 30 day period only if the Plaintiff by Counterclaim has not filed a Request to Note in Default. If no Dispute Note to Counterclaim has been filed by the new party, you cannot take any further steps in the action against the new party on the Counterclaim unless you get a Court Order to do so. 

Can I file a Third Party claim against another person? What do I do?

Yes. You may file a Claim against another person that you believe is responsible for the Civil Claim against you. This is called a Third Party Claim. 

For more detailed information and step by step instructions review the Third Party Claim.

It is recommended that you get legal advice if you want to file a Third Party Claim as the action may become complex.

Is there a fee to file a Third Party Claim?

Yes. There is a filing fee for the Third Party Claim.

You may apply to waive the filing fee if you can show that you cannot pay because of financial hardship. A waiver will be effective for a period of 6 months. 

If you are interested in applying for a fee waiver you will be required to produce supporting financial documents. For more information, please see the guidelines outlined on the Fee Waiver Application or contact a Provincial Court Office.

How many copies of the Third Party Claim will I need to bring for filing? 

You will be required to bring the following number of copies of the Third Party Claim, along with the filing fee:

  • Original (which the Court will keep for the Court file)
  • Copy for your records
  • Copy for each party
  • Copy for each Third Party Defendant

Note: You must attach a filed copy of the Civil Claim and any filed Dispute Note(s) to the Third Party Claim. Do not attach any additional material or evidence to the Third Party Claim

The clerks’ office will send copies of the filed Dispute Note to the other parties.

How do I serve the Third Party Claim?

The Third Party Claim and a blank form of a Dispute Note to a Third Party Claim must be served on the Third Party Defendant within 30 days after the Third Party Plaintiff filed its Dispute Note and before a Judgment has been entered against that Third Party Plaintiff or that Third Party Plaintiff has been noted in default. 

Where a Third Party Defendant is new to the action you are required to serve the Third Party Claim in the same way as a Civil Claim would be served. For detailed information and step by step instructions review the Affidavit of Service of Commencement Documents.

For service of a Third Party Claim:

  • on a Third Party Defendant who is an existing party in the action; and
  • on the Plaintiff and existing Defendants,

service may be made to their addresses for service. For detailed information and step by step instructions for service review the Affidavit of Service of Non-Commencement Documents.

What happens next when all the Claims and Disputes have been filed?

For more detailed information review the section called All The Claims and Disputes Have Been Filed, What Happens Next?