A small claims court handles minor cases that involve small claims only. Although it can perform other judicial functions, it has limited functions when it comes to handling civil cases involving private law practitioners. Around the world, small claims courts exist in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Scotland, Hong Kong, England and Wales as well as South Africa.
Small claims courts are usually local county courts that help aggrieved parties seek compensation for the injury or damage done to them or their properties. Cases this type of court accommodates are those that involve traffic or car accidents, property damage, disputes between landlord and tenants such as eviction issues and collection of personal debts such as checks that were issued unlawfully.
In a small claims court, the parties involved are the ones who present their case. Normally, their lawyers are not allowed to appear or take part in the litigation together with their clients. They may be allowed to participate only if the judge permits them to do so. Additionally, a trial by jury is never conducted in this type of court.
Small claims court is also limited to the amount of money it can award but this may vary as well. Normally, the upper limit to the amount is set in the thousands of dollars or pounds.
Filing a case in a small claims court involves a certain fee. In the U.S., however, the filing fees in all states have been increase effective this year. The cost to file a case ranges from US$15 to $150 and this will depend on the amount of claim being sought.