Small Claims - General Information Print this Page
Phone: (415) 444-7130
Location: Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room 113
Office Hours: 8:00am - 4:00pm

For answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about small claims proceedings, please click here.

Online Resources

There are many online resources to assist parties in completing small claims forms. Here are some of the websites that can help.

  • For Judicial Council forms that can be filled in online, click here.
  • For local small claims forms, click here.
  • For access to the California Landlord Tenant Guide, click here.


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 3:30 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 Center (LSHC) 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.

The Legal Self Help Center offers in-person and remote services according to the following schedule:

  • In person drop-in services: 8:30 am to 12 noon, Tuesday through Thursday
  • Email services: 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Phone hours: 8:30 am to 12 noon, Monday through Friday, and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Tuesday and Thursday
  • Zoom drop-In clinics: 8:30 am to 12 noon, Monday and Friday
              Zoom Link
              Meeting ID: 160 040 9915
              Passcode: 350144

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.
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