Small claims courts are intended to resolve civil disputes involving small amounts of money, without formal rules of evidence and long delays. The parties involved may present their own claims or defenses or may be represented by counsel; however, in a handful of states, attorneys are prohibited. The cases move quickly through the court dockets, the judges often render their opinions in the same day, and the parties are generally satisfied with the quick resolution of the controversy. However, there is a downside. All small claims courts have “limited jurisdiction” (authority to hear and adjudge a matter) involving not only the dollar amount but also the subject matter of the controversy. Secondly, if parties do not understand what they are doing in presenting their claim or defense, they could stand to lose, badly, and there is no going back.
Inside Small Claims Court
- Anatomy of a Small Claim Action
- Special Considerations
- State Provisions
- Additional Resources