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Small Claims Court Actions

What Is the Small Claims Court?

Small claims court handles cases involving cash or estate disputes, generally below a financial limit set. A physical person/ an individual can raise up to $7,500 in small claims court in California, while corporations and limited liability firms are still restricted to $5,000. It is noticeable that the price of employing an attorney and spending time in civil court can rapidly exceed those limitations. Alternatively, filing a small claim case may provide a more affordable alternative to dispute resolution at much reduced price.

Small claims cases are always heard in a distinct division of county Civil Courts. Both parties, the complainant and the defendant, submit their case to an official appointed by a judge or court. In turn, this judge weighs the proof and makes a judgment. In a matter of minutes, the entire court process can be over.

What Are the “Actions” in Small Claims Court?

According to Section 116.30 of Code of Civil Procedure of California: “no formal pleading is required to bring a small claims case other than the argument defined in Section 116.320 or 116.360. For small claims cases, the pre-trial discovery procedures mentioned for Section 2019.010 of Code of Civil Procedure of California are not authorized”.

The Form of the Claim

The claim form is a simple non-technical form that the Judicial Council has approved or adopted.

The claim form shall provide a place for:

  • a name and address of the defendant, if known;
  • the amount and ground of the claim;
  • the claimant, if possible, demanded compensation and custody of the property;
  • the defendant failed or refused to pay and, if necessary, refused to surrender the property; and/ or the plaintiff itself.

Also, according to the law the form or accompanying directions shall contain information that the plaintiff:

  • can not be represented by a lawyer,
  • doesn’t have right of appeal,

You can ask the court to waive fees for filing and serving the case on the ground that the plaintiff is unable to pay them using the forms accepted for that purpose by the Judicial Council.

What Are the Actions of the Clerk?

The clerk shall schedule the case for trial when a lawsuit is made and issue an order for the parties to appear with witnesses and records at the time set for the hearing to prove their claim or defense. The case is scheduled to be heard no earlier than 20 days but not more than 70 days from the order date.

The clerk might make all the following at the time the claim is filed:

  • Allow a copy of the claim to be sent to the defendant by any means of mail providing for the receipt of the return.
  • Upon receipt of proof that the claim has been served as set out above, issue an order scheduling the hearing in accordance with subdivision (a) and order the parties to appear with witnesses and documents at the time set for the hearing to prove their claim or defense.
  • Because a copy of the order setting the hearing case and directing the parties to appear is to be sent to the parties by any form of mail providing for the receipt of the return.

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