April 23, 2014
Small Claims Court Checklist

For Plaintiff

  1. Contact the other party to discuss and try to resolve the problem.
  2. Try mediation or other informal dispute resolution services.
  3. Familiarize yourself with Small Claims Court procedures (read this WWW site, view the presentation "Your Guide to Small Claims Court", and attend a Small Claims Advisory Workshop if you have specific questions you have been unable to get answered).
  4. Determine exact amount in dispute.
  5. Identify court where venue is proper.
  6. (a) File claim form and pay filing fee (Form: Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Defendant), or
    (b) if you are a business, file Fictitious Business Name Declaration if appropriate.
  7. Arrange for service of process on each defendant (Make sure Proof of Service form returned to court before hearing; make sure minimum days of notice met).
  8. Prepare for court (organize thoughts, collect evidence, talk to witnesses).
  9. Keep communication open; try to resolve dispute with other party before hearing.
  10. If possible, attend a court hearing in the location where your hearing will take place to observe the process.
  11. Attend hearing and present your case.

For Defendant

  1. Contact plaintiff to discuss and try to work out dispute.
  2. Suggest or agree to try mediation or other informal dispute resolution methods.
  3. Familiarize yourself with Small Claims Court procedures (read this WWW site, view the presentation "Your Guide to Small Claims Court", and attend a Small Claims Advisory Workshop if you have specific questions you have been unable to get answered).
  4. If you have a claim against the plaintiff, consider resolving it at same hearing (File: Defendant's Claim and Order to Plaintiff).
  5. Prepare for court hearing (organize thoughts, collect evidence, consult witnesses, etc.)
  6. Keep communication open; try to resolve dispute before hearing.
  7. If you owe something, try to either pay it or work out payment plan before hearing.
  8. If necessary, ask court to postpone hearing to let you and plaintiff resolve dispute informally.
  9. Try to avoid court judgment from being entered against you, since it may appear on your credit record.
  10. If possible, attend a court hearing in the location where your hearing will take place to observe the process.
  11. Attend hearing and present your defense.

After the Hearing: Plaintiff and Defendant

  1. Obtain Notice of Entry of Judgment form (in Small Claims Court).
  2. (a) If plaintiff or defendant didn't attend the hearing for good cause, file Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration to request new hearing by small claims court; and
    (b) If judgment issued against defendant who appeared at hearing, file Notice of Appeal with the Small Claims clerk to request new hearing in the Civil Division of the superior court.
  3. Judgment debtor: (a) Take action to comply with judgment (pay judgment creditor directly or make payment to court); and
    (b) After payment, make sure Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment filed by judgment creditor with small claims court.
  4. Judgment creditor: (a) File Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment with small claims court after judgment satisfied; or
    (b) Take steps to collect judgment.

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