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Small claims court is a special court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. In small claims court, the rules are simplified and the hearing is informal. The person who files the claim is called the plaintiff. The person who the claim is filed against is called the defendant. While you may ask an attorney for advice before you go to small claims court, an attorney cannot represent you in court.
The plaintiff has the right to appeal an unfavorable defendant’s claim but has no right to appeal the small claims judgment. The defendant has a right to appeal. If the defendant files an appeal, each party may be represented by an attorney at the hearing. More information on appeals is found under Post-judgment Proceedings.
A natural person (not a business or public entity) may file a claim for no more than or equal to $10,000.00, with a few exceptions.
If you have a claim for more than $10,000.00, you may file your action in the Civil Division of the Superior Court. You may, however, waive your right to any amount over $10,000.00 and file the matter in Small Claims.
This information may be downloaded under “Courts/Small Claims.”
Yes. The Superior Court of California provides a Small Claims Advisor at no cost. The Advisor is available to assist with Small Claims issues and procedures from filing through enforcement. The Legal Advisor is available for a phone consultation, only. The advisor may be reached Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12 PM to 4 PM and Tuesday from 1 PM to 5 PM at (707) 344-1446.
You may check the city’s business licensing bureau or the county clerk’s fictitious business name index. If the business is a corporation, check with the California Secretary of State for the exact name and the agent authorized to receive service of process for the corporation.
You may request forms either in person or through the mail. If you wish to receive your forms by mail, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.