Resources to Navigate the Civil Court System

Center for Public Legal Education Alberta – Ten Things to Know

Based on the CPLEA’s most frequently asked questions and concerns from self-representatives, this free pamphlet contains a lot of information in a small amount of space. It covers the top then things that people should know about going to Civil Court in Alberta (not including the Provincial Court, to which the rules don’t apply), including the steps that need to be taken before going to trial, the time limits that need to be abided by, and the importance of sharing documents. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the document, there is not as much detail as most people would probably hope for. Also, the pamphlet was made with self-representatives in mind, but it often discusses the role of lawyers in the process.

Law Society of Alberta – Civil Action

This link covers in broad strokes the process of what happens if you sue someone, or if you are being sued. It has a few drawbacks, in that it is not especially detailed (for example, it tells you that there are certain time limits on things, but not what those limits are) and it frequently refers people to talk to their lawyer. Overall, though, it is nicely laid out and easy to read, so it would be useful for someone who has never had to deal with the legal system before.

Law Society of Alberta – Glossary

This link is for a very comprehensive and extensive glossary. It covers far more terms than you would need to know for just civil procedures, but does not include some of the more relevant terms like “service” or “remedy”. It would probably be a helpful link for anyone, although the wording can get a bit technical and might exceed some people’s comprehension abilities.

Canadian Bar Association (Alberta Branch) – Civil Claims Video

This link takes you to a video produced by the CBA about the civil claims process. It’s a short video (less than 10 minutes long) and covers the gamut of what to expect from pleadings to trial. Because it is so short, it clearly does not contain an in depth amount of detail, but it does give a good overview of the Provincial Court system. It would likely be helpful to all people, but especially to those who struggle with reading lengthy or dense text.

Law Central Alberta – Making the Decision to Self-Represent

This link provides a short list of resources designed to help you make the decision on whether you are going to handle your own legal matter without a lawyer. While some of the resources include lists on the steps you would need to take to properly deal with your claim throughout the process, this link is otherwise more effective when combined with other Law Central Alberta resources, such as Preparing Your Case or Accessing Court Forms.

Law Central Alberta – Court Procedures and Rules of Court

This link provides resources to help you understand the formal rules and procedures that guide the court processes in Alberta. These rules and procedures can be quite strict and there are often penalties for not following them, so these resources are useful for anyone looking to start a civil claim (in either Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench).

Law Central Alberta – Preparing Your Case

This link provides access to resources to help you during the process of preparing your case. The resources run the gamut from legal research to filing paperwork to explaining specific steps throughout the court process. The only drawbacks of this link are that the list of resources is long and provides a few irrelevant pieces—such as information about the Court of Appeal—but overall it would likely be quite helpful for self-representatives.

Law Central Alberta – Accessing Law-Related and Court Forms

This link provides resources to help you locate many of the forms you may need during the court process. While some forms are still only available from the Courts or specific agencies, many of them are now available online. Most of these forms can be found in various places around the internet, but having them collated in one place under a clear heading is quite useful for anyone starting the civil claim process. 

Law Central Alberta – Legal Definitions

Compared with the resource from the Law Society of Alberta, this is not a glossary in and of itself. Instead, this link provides a list of resources for well-respected legal dictionaries, including the glossary provided by the Supreme Court of Canada. It is a bit tedious to have to check across multiple sources, but with the wide array of choices this link provides, the term you’re looking for should be there.

Law Central Alberta – Courthouse Services

While not directly related to matters of civil action, this link provides information about the services offered by the Alberta Court system and would likely be helpful for anyone who is unfamiliar with that system. The most useful resource in this link would likely be the Alberta Court Directory, which provides locations and contact information for courts across the province.

Law Central Alberta – Pretty Much the Entire Website

Really, you could spend days reading through all of the information on this site and following all the links to the various resources. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, just because there is so much information, but it is beautifully laid out and the search function is ridiculously easy to use. The site is also broken down into user friendly tabs that allow you to navigate with a sense of purpose and simplicity.

Alberta Courts – Provincial Court Civil Claims Process

Of all the links for self-representatives at the Provincial Court level, this one is the most comprehensive and probably the most important. This part of the Alberta Courts’ website walks through the entire process involved in putting a claim through the Small Claims (Civil) Court, from properly filling out forms and serving documents, all the way to courtroom etiquette and appeals. There is even a simplified flowchart. This link also details what to do if you are the person being sued, and poses questions to help you determine if it is worth your time, effort, and money to sue. This resource is thorough with its information, well laid out, and relatively user friendly, making it an important and useful tool for any self-representative to have if they are filing at the Provincial Court level.

Alberta Courts – Court of Queen’s Bench Civil Forms

With this link, all of the forms you could ever want or need regarding your claim in the Court of Queen’s Bench can be found in one consolidated place. The one sticking point is that the PDFs only work with absolutely the newest version of Adobe Reader, so there is a high likelihood that they won’t open properly on your computer. Otherwise, it is an incredibly useful feature to be able to look at the forms before having to fill them out and file them at a court.

Alberta Courts – Law Information Centers

Unfortunately, you can only contact the Law Information Centers (LInC) in person, by telephone, or by email, and their online presence is rather limited. However, it is an important resource to have because LInC provides Alberta citizens with real people who can help guide you through the basics of finding and filing forms, etc. They do not provide legal advice, but they can explain the process for you based on the particulars of your own claim.

Alberta Law Libraries

This link provides anyone with an internet connection with a wealth of resources for doing the necessary research for their case. It is accessible by the general public and is well laid out to find the various resources. The only issue that really stands out is that it doesn’t make things easy to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This is not a site designed for browsing.

Links for self represented litigants who need some guidance: see the resources by province - Alberta