The Small Claims Process
Small claims court is a division of County Court, which has jurisdiction in civil matters where the damages sought or the money claimed does not exceed $3,900.
The person making the claim is known as the Plaintiff. This person or party assumes the burden of proof, which is the responsibility to prove the issues of the case. The other person or party, against whom the claim is brought, is known as the Defendant.
The actual court procedure is informal.
- Hearings are conducted by a County Judge
- Juries are not used
- Attorneys are not allowed
- The parties involved must represent themselves
Once a judgment is entered, any person not satisfied with the Judge's ruling may appeal to the District Court within 30 days.
If the judgment is for the Plaintiff, it is the Plaintiff's responsibility to collect the property or money. If the Defendant refuses to pay the judgment, the Plaintiff then has the option of using an attorney to initiate collection procedures. The usual procedure involves either selling the debtor's property or garnishing the debtor's wages and bank accounts.
Instructional brochures regarding the small claims process are available at the County Court office or at the Judicial Branch Website Self-Help Center.