LegalYou:  Small Claims Court

Though they say justice is blind, in the eyes of the law not all financial disputes are treated the same. Depending on the amount of money at stake, different cases have different rules. For some, $15,000 is the cut off. Anything over is handled by a circuit court, and anything under is handled by a county court.

But small claims rules comes into effect with any sum under $5,000. In fact, if the value of your claim is just over $5,000, you might consider claiming only $5,000, forgetting about the amount over that, so you can take advantage of some of the small claims rules.

A small claims case begins when the party seeking money files what’s known as a Statement of Claim. The accused is then served a notice of this. Unlike other types of cases, no process server is required to serve notice in small claims matters.

Certified mail will do.

It’s like getting an invitation to a party that you must attend or face punishment. Now, the court may schedule what’s called an Initial Pretrial Conference, and this may result in the court ordering the parties involved to mediation.

This basically means they must try to resolve the issue outside of court. There are many ways that small claims cases operate uniquely. For one, they move much faster and much more informally then other cases, much like Judge Judy, but without all the commercials and consolation prizes.

Also, your opponent has no right to get discovery from you unless you are represented by an attorney, and unless required by the court, no pretrial motions or defensive pleadings are necessary. Cases can be dismissed in six months if the plaintiff does not push forward and can be disposed of summarily if there’s no triable issue even without a motion. And the court is even required to assist those representing themselves with things like decorum, presentation of evidence, and handling private information.

But no matter the differences faced, LegalYou is there to help you navigate the many other nuances of small claims court. No matter which side of the dispute you are on and how much is at stake, you can never have enough knowledge of your legal rights and available choices.

Any other questions you have regarding this or other legal matters, visit