Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room 113
8:30am - 3:30pm
For answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about small claims proceedings, please
There are many online resources to assist parties in completing small claims forms. Here are some of the
websites that can help.
Below are step-by-step, easy to follow instructions on the procedures, from the initial filing of a small
claim through the appeal process if a party is dissatisfied with the judicial officer's ruling in the case.
Due to the length of time it takes to initiate a new lawsuit, documents received in the clerk’s office after
3:00 p.m. will be time stamped with the current date and processed the following court business day. The date of
filing will be the time stamped date.
Small Claims Advisor
Staff at Legal Self Help Services (LSHS) provide small claims advisor services to the public. They are equipped to assist parties
in filing and responding to claims, provide information on procedures in these actions and help parties to adequately prepare
for their court appearances. Services are available by phone at (415) 444-7130, Option 5.
Due to the high volume of court users, only limited services are available by telephone and email. It may take as long as five
(5) court business days to receive a response from a staff member. If you require immediate assistance, please visit LSHS in person.
You may visit their office at the Civic Center, Room C-27, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - noon and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. To allow yourself enough time
to receive assistance from the staff, and to complete your paperwork, please arrive at their office no later than 11:15 a.m.
and 3:15 p.m.
The video Resolving Your Small Claims Case in the California Courts
provides information regarding the options for resolving disputes involving $10,000 or less. If someone owes you – or claims you owe them – $10,000
or less, watching this video may help.
Small Claims Court is a special type of civil proceeding which is commonly referred to as the "People's
Court" because attorneys are not allowed to represent either side. The rules are relatively simple and
the hearings are less formal. Parties in small claims actions can resolve their disputes relatively quickly
and inexpensively. The person who files the claim is called the plaintiff and the person being sued is
called the defendant.
Plaintiffs filing in Small Claims Court cannot seek judgments of more than $10,000 for individuals and
$5,000 for businesses. An individual who owns a business (e.g. sole proprietor) and does business under
a fictitious business name is considered to be an "individual" in Small Claims Court. For example, a
plumber doing business as ABC Plumbing who wants to sue a customer who has not paid for services may file
a claim for up to $10,000 with certain exceptions. If a business is a corporation, partnership or any other type of entity than a
sole proprietorship, the maximum claim amount in Small Claims Court cannot exceed $5,000.
California law states that plaintiffs may file as many claims as they like for up to $2,500 each calendar
year. However, plaintiffs can only file two claims in a calendar year that seek more than $2,500 per claim.
Please note: Filing a small claim in this Court must be done in person or by mail.