Question: Small Claims Court -- What are the boundaries of cases that can be brought before this court?
Every justice court in Arizona has a small claims division to provide an inexpensive and speedy method for resolving most civil disputes that do not exceed $2,500. The small claims court can be used by any individual, partnership, association or corporation for civil claims that do not exceed $2,500. Small claims cases are simplified, therefore, lawyers are not allowed unless all parties agree. A form, Stipulation For Use of Attorneys, may be filed for this purpose anytime prior to the hearing. It costs $16.00 to file a small claims complaint and $9.00 for a defendant to file an answer. Other filings or actions in the case may have additional fees. For those with low incomes, the filing fee may be waived by filling out a fee waiver form.
Generally, people should try to settle their disputes and disagreements out of court whenever possible. If an agreement cannot be reached, a small claims complaint may be filed. The types of claims that are less than $2500 that can be filed in the small claims division include:
- money debts
- personal injury and property damage
The types of claims that cannot be filed in the small claims division are those for:
- libel or slander
- prejudgment remedies
- injunctive relief
- specific performance
- class actions
- traffic violations
- criminal matters
- claims greater than $2500
- forcible entry or detainer
- actions against this state; it's political subdivisions; OR an officer or employee in an official capacity (i.e. State, County, City, Salt River Project, etc.)
All cases are heard by either a judge or hearing officer, who then makes a decision. The decision is final and binding on both parties. There is no right to a jury trial or an appeal in small claims cases. Formal Rules of procedure do not apply. Procedures in small claims cases are intended to be simple enough for a person to file all the necessary forms and represent him/herself at an informal hearing. For more information about the Small Claims process including flow charts for both Plaintiff and Defendant, visit the Maricopa County Justice Courts Online. Forms for filing a Small Claims case can be found online at the Maricopa Justice Court Forms online.
November 14, 2006