Small Claims Courts
The Small Claims Courts deal with minor civil claims of up to R20 000 in a speedy, affordable and simple manner without using an attorney. Visit the Department of Justice for more information about the matters that can be taken to the Small Claims Court.
If you want to, you can get legal advice before going to court. Legal assistants and clerks of the Small Claims Courts will assist you for free.
Companies can’t approach the Small Claims Courts to settle disputes.
Any of the official languages can be used in the court and the case isn’t heard by a judge or magistrate, but rather by a commissioner, who hears each side of the story and asks questions.
Decisions of the Small Claims Court can’t be appealed, however, if you think that the commissioner was biased or unfair, you can ask to have the case reviewed.
Please note: It’s important that the person you’re claiming against can repay you should the court rule in your favour. Claiming from someone who owns no property or is unemployed will not guarantee that you’ll receive your money.
Step 1: Contact the other party
Contact the opposing party (the person against whom you’re instituting legal proceedings) either in person, in writing or telephonically and request them to settle your claim.
Step 2: Write a letter of demand
If the opposing party doesn’t satisfy your claim, send them a written demand setting out the facts on which the claim is based and the amount you’re seeking.
Deliver the written demand by hand or registered post to the opposing party. Give the opposing party 14 days from the time they receive your letter to settle your claim.
Step 3: Go to the clerk of the court
After 14 days report to the clerk of the court with the following documents:
Step 4: A summons is sent to the opposing party
The clerk of the court will examine your documents and help you draw up the summons. The clerk of the court will issue the summons and hand it to you to hand to the opposing party or by the sheriff of the court. The clerk of the court will also inform you of the date and time the case will be heard in court.
Step 5: The hearing
Step 6: After judgment has been given
If the judgment is given in your favour, the person must pay the money immediately and will be issued a receipt. If they’re not able to pay, the court will investigate their financial position and determine a payment plan.
Abide by the decision of the court.
If you intend instituting a claim in the small claims courts, ensure that the opposing party can compensate you should the judgment be in your favour. It is pointless to institute a claim against another person who is unemployed and who possesses no property.
What matters are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court:
For more information, please contact:
These facility categories:
|Government Body:||(The Government of South Africa)|