Small Claims General Information
What is a Small Claims Division?
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 $3,500.
- 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.
Who can use the Small Claims Procedure?
The small claims courts can be used by any individual, partnership, association or corporation for civil claims that do not exceed $3,500. Small claims cases are simplified, therefore, lawyers are not allowed. However, they may be allowed to participate if all parties agree. Stipulation for Use of Attorneys may be filed for this purpose any time prior to the hearing. Attorneys can appear in the small claims division if they are representing themselves. Either party may object to the proceedings being held in the small claims division. The request must be made in writing at least 10 working days prior to the time set for the hearing. The case then will be transferred, the rules of civil procedure apply to the case, permitting claims in excess of $3,500, attorney representation, jury trial and appeal. The party requesting the transfer will be assessed a transfer fee.
Things to consider before filing
This is your case. You are solely responsible for prosecuting or defending the claim or recovering any monetary awards. The clerks at the court are not attorneys and are not authorized to give legal advice. It is not the court clerk's responsibility to advise you if you have a legal claim. The clerk is not responsible for any error you may make in asserting or defending the claim. The court does not take sides or render an opinion regarding the merits of a claim. There are certain steps you must follow to pursue your case properly.
Who may represent a party in a small claims action?
Statutes governing small claims procedures set forth who may file a small claims action or appear or represent on behalf of such actions.
- An individual shall represent himself.
- Either a spouse or both may represent a martial community.
- An active general partner or an authorized full-time employee shall represent a partnership.
- A full-time officer or authorized full-time employee shall represent a corporation.
- An active member or an authorized full-time employee shall represent an association.
- Any other organization or entity shall be represented by one of its active members or authorized full-time employees.
If you are a full time employee representing a corporation-please provide the court with a letter stating your position and authority to represent the corporation. The letter must be signed by a corporate officer.
You may NOT file if:
The action involves a claim of defamation by libel or slander.
The action involves forcible entry, forcible detainer or unlawful detainer.
The action involves a claim for specific performance.
The action is brought or defended on behalf of a class.
The action requests relief by or involves prejudgment remedies.
The action is seeking injunctive relief.
The action involves traffic violations or criminal matters.
The action is against this State, its political subdivisions or is against its officers or employees, action in an official capacity.
The Plaintiff must be the original owner of a claim and may not sue on an assigned claim. However, after judgment a party may make an assignment of the judgment.
The Plaintiff may file for any amount not to exceed $3,500.00. The Plaintiff may reduce a larger claim to $3,500.00 and waive the remaining amount. A claim may NOT be split by filing two separate actions. The Plaintiff may ask for reimbursement of the court costs in addition to the $3,500.00 maximum. Court costs include, but are not limited to filing and service fees. A prevailing defendant may also ask for reimbursement of court costs.
You can obtain a small claims packet, including instructions, in person at the Court or my mail by calling the Court.
Notice to both parties
The hearing will be set within 60 days of the filing of the defendant’s answer. Bring all evidence, documents and witnesses you need to present your case or establish your defense. The judge/hearing officer will not accept evidence after the hearing (unless ordered by him/her at the hearing) Judgment will be rendered either at the hearing or within 10 working days.
Both parties are responsible for informing the court of current addresses so that notification can be received.
A.R.S.§ 22-505 allows only two motions in Small Claims – Motion for Change of Venue (location) and Motion to Vacate Judgment. These motions should be filed as soon as possible to ensure prompt handling.
Transfer to Civil Division
Transfer request must be filed at least 10 days prior to hearing.
Request for Continuance
Granted only for the most serious reasons. It is a good idea to attach any proof you may have regarding your request, i.e. a doctor’s written statement, copies of plane tickets, etc.
Collecting on Your Judgment
The court is not a collection agency. A Judgment allows you to proceed with the legal aspects of collecting. If you have been awarded a Judgment, the court may provide a list of methods you may use to proceed with collections. See Collecting A Money Judgment