Small Claims Courts | Western Cape Government

Small Claims Courts

Description:

Small claims court

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.

Instructions:

Gavel and law bookSteps to follow

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:

  • Proof that the written demand was delivered, such as a Post Office slip.
  • Any contract, document or other proof upon which your claim is based or that’s related to it.
  • The full name and address (home and business addresses, if available) and telephone number of the opposing party. 

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

  • You must appear in court in person.
  • Ensure you have all the relevant documents on which your claim is based with you.
  • Ensure that you have the written proof that the summons was served on the opposing party.
  • The court procedures are informal and simple.
  • The commissioner of the court will ask you to state your case.
  • State the facts as concisely as possible.
  • Answer the questions of the commissioner and submit your documents upon which your claim is based.

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.


Lodging a claim with the small claims courtImportant notice:

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:

  • Claims higher than R 20 000 in value.
  • Claims against the State (including the municipality/local government).
  • Claims based on the cession or the transfer of rights.
  • Claims for damages in respect of defamation, malicious prosecution, wrongful imprisonment, wrongful arrest, seduction and breach of promise to marry.
  • Claims for the dissolution of a marriage.
  • Claims concerning the validity of a will.
  • Claims concerning the status of a person in respect of their mental capacity.

For more information, please contact:

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 25 October 2019