Typically, a small claims court will have a maximum monetary limit to the amount of judgments it can award; these limits vary. Upper limits are set in the thousands of dollars/pounds. By suing in a small claims court, the plaintiff typically waives any right to claim more than the court can award. The plaintiff is allowed to reduce a claim to fit the requirements of this venue. In some jurisdictions, a party who loses in a small claims court is entitled to a trial de novo in a court of more general jurisdiction and with more formal procedures.
The rules of civil procedure and sometimes evidence are typically altered and simplified in order to make the procedures economical: one guiding principle usually operating in these courts is that individuals ought to be able to conduct their own cases and represent themselves without recourse to a lawyer. In some jurisdictions, corporations must still appear represented by a lawyer in small claims court. Expensive court procedures such as interogatories and depositions are usually not allowed in small claims court. Practically, all matters filed in small claims court are set for trial. Under some court rules should the defendant not show up at trial and not have requested postponement, a default judgment may be entered in favour of the plaintiff.
Trial by jury is seldom or never conducted in small claims courts; it is typically excluded by the statute establishing the court. Similarly, equitable remedies such as injunctions, including protective orders, are seldom available from small claims courts.
Separate family courts may exist to hear simple cases in family law. For reasons having more to do with history than with the sort of case typically heard by a small claims court, most US states do not allow domestic relations disputes to be heard in small claims court.
Winning in small claims court does not automatically ensure payment in recompense of a plaintiff's damages. This may be relatively easy, in the case of a dispute against an insured party, or extremely difficult in the case of an uncooperative, transient or indigent defendant. You can collect the judgement by wage garnishment and liens
Most courts encourage parties with disputes to seek alternative means of resolving disputes, if possible, before filing for suit. For example, the Superior Court of Santa Clara provides guidelines for resolving disputes out of court Additionally, the parties can both agree on a third party to arbitrate their dispute outside of court.
Small claims cases are heard by judges of the Provincial Court in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, by judges or deputy-judges of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, and by Hearing Officers in Manitoba.
The small claims courts are meant to be an easier and less expensive way to resolve disputes, than in the higher courts. Small Claims Court procedure is regulated both by provincial legislation and rules in most provinces. Small claims procedure is simplified with no strict pleadings requirements, no formal discovery process and parties costs may be limited.
There is a wide range of monetary jurisdiction for small claims courts in Canada. Subject to various restrictions:
In general, disputes involving title to land, slander, libel, bankruptcy, false imprisonment or malicious prosecution must be handled in a superior court and cannot be determined in small claims courts.
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