Small Claims Court Advice
After many years of volunteering his time as a Pro Tem Small Claims Court Judge, Mr. Johnson is willing to provide legal advice to those “litigants” having a matter coming up for hearing in “The Peoples Court” also known as Small Claims Court. Attorneys prohibited from representing litigants in Small Claims Court matters.
California Small Claims Courts now have a jurisdictional maximum of $7,500.00 per claim for an individual or sole proprietor. Corporations and other entities are limited to $5,000.00. In the event that your claim exceeds the maximum, you are not allowed to file two or more separate claims on the same action.
In the event that your claim exceeds the amount of $2,500.00 the claim form SC-100 has a box that you will have to check stating that you have not filed more than two claims during the past year greater that $2,500.00.
Of course if your claim exceeds the sum of $7,500.00 you are free to file the matter in the regular superior court, where you may either retain the services of an attorney, or represent yourself. Instead of filing the matter in the regular superior court, you may consider waiving the amount above the small claims court maximum in order to stay within the Small Claims Court limits.
Before filing your Small Claims matter it is necessary to make a “demand” on the other party setting forth the reasons for your claim. A written demand sent by “certified mail” is generally the best means of satisfying this initial stage of the proceeding.
For a much more detailed analysis of the subject matter, the California Department of Consumer Affairs has reproduced a 49 page booklet online setting forth responses to many commonly asked questions relating to California Small Claims actions. The booklet also provides leads to additional resources, including but not limited to: methods of locating the defendant, preparing witnesses, satisfying the Judgment) among other relevant topics.
See the California Department of Consumer Affairs website: