Small Claims Court
We have complied the most frequently asked questions for your convenience. If you still have questions after you have reviewed the following information feel free to contact us: 850.926.0905
What is a Small Claims case? / Is an Attorney necessary? / Who can file a Small Claims case? / What does it cost to file a Small Claims case? / What information is needed to file a Small Claims case? / Are there other requirements? / What happens after the filing of a Small Claims case? / Why use mediation? / Is a Jury trial possible in a Small Claims case? / What happens to the case if a settlement is reached? / How does a party collect a judgment? / May a lien be filed against the defendant’s property? / Forms/ Small claims: The who, what, where and why of collection lawsuits
What is a Small Claims case?
A Small Claims case is a legal action filed in County Court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is $5,000.00 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees.
Is an Attorney necessary?
No. Small Claims court is considered a “peoples court” and a lawyer is not required. Clerk’s Office personnel will provide you with the necessary forms for filing a Small Claims case.
Who can file a Small Claims case?
Any person(s) 18 years or older or any individual doing business as a company, may file a Small Claims case. Each person who is a party to the claim must appear at the Clerk’s Office to sign the necessary paperwork in the presence of a Deputy Clerk, or the signatures must be notarized.
What does it cost to file a Small Claims case?
Filing fees for Small Claims actions are determined by Florida Statutes and are subject to annual change by legislative action. Fees also vary in accordance with the dollar amount of the claim and type of action. Other fees are required for service on the parties sued and are dependent on the type of service selected. Contact the Clerk’s Office for current fees.
What information is needed to file a Small Claims case?
It is important that the claim is filed against the right party. The additional time spent researching the correct name could make a difference in the ability to collect on any judgment entered by the court. Copies of any contracts, notes, leases, receipts, or other evidence in support of the claim must be furnished for each person sued and the court. The originals must be brought to the first court appearance. A full explanation of the reason for the Small Claims action will be necessary.
Are there other requirements?
If someone other than an individual is sued, additional information is needed to complete the required forms. For example, is the individual doing business as a company, a partnership where there are several people doing business as a company, or corporation.
What happens after the filing of a Small Claims case?
After the filing of a Small Claims case, each person or business sued must be served with a Summons or Notice to appear in court on the date and time scheduled when the claim was filed. This court date will be a pre-trial conference and parties should be prepared to present their cases in court. At the pre-trial conference mediation is ordered if both parties to the dispute are present and unable to settle their dispute. A mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. Mediation is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision making authority rests with the parties. If the dispute cannot be settled at the pre-trial conference, a trial date will be scheduled by the court. The parties must appear at the trial with all witnesses and documentation. At the trial, both parties will have an opportunity to explain the case to the judge, ask the other party any questions concerning the claim, present documentation as discussed at the pre-trial conference, and call witnesses.
Why use mediation?
The Judge will require mediation because:
Mediation is economical. Settlement is viewed as fair by both parties. There is one court meeting. There is no need to subpoena evidence or witnesses and depend on their presence at trial. There is no extensive trial preparation. Mediation preserves personal and business relationships. It allows debtors to arrange repayment plans, avoid a judgment, and preserve credit reputation. Mediation protects privacy and avoids the publicity of trial. Both parties remain in control and participate in a “win-win” solution. The agreement is final and the dispute resolved.
Is a Jury trial possible in a Small Claims case?
Yes, a trial by jury may be requested by the person filing the Small Claims case, upon written demand at the time the case is filed. The person being sued may request a jury trial within 5 days after service of Notice or at the pre-trial conference.
What happens to the case if a settlement is reached?
If, at any time the proceedings a settlement is reached by the parties, the person who filed suit must notify the Clerk’s Office in writing of the settlement.
How does a party collect a judgment?
We have brochures in the Clerk’s Office provided by the Florida Department of State that will explain your options to you.
May a lien be filed against the defendant’s property?
If a party chooses to place a judgment lien against any individually owned real property of the defendant, following the entry of Judgment, that party should obtain a certified copy of the judgment and have it recorded in the Official Records in the Clerk’s Recording Division. Fees for recording are set by statute and are subject to change by legislative action. Contact the Clerk’s Office for current fees.
Small Claims Forms Necessary Forms
Please Note: The information contained in the forms on this website is simply
informational and is not intended as legal advice. Do not depend on using
the forms offered on this site for making legal, business or other important
decisions. Employees of the Clerk's office cannot give legal advice. For
further explanations of the forms on this site please contact an attorney.