Small Claims Courts
The Small Claims Courts swiftly, affordably, and easily handle minor civil claims up to R20,000 without the need for legal representation. For additional information on the matters you can bring before the Small Claims Court, or visit the Department of Justice.
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.
A commissioner hears the case instead of a judge or magistrate. After hearing each side of the story in any of the official languages, the commissioner will ask questions and make a ruling. The decisions of the Small Claims Court are final, but you can ask to have the case reviewed if you believe the commissioner acted unfairly or with bias. Steps to follow
Step 1: Contact the other party
Contact the opposing party (the person against whom you’re instituting legal proceedings) 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 you base the claim 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 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.
If the person doesn’t settle the dispute as agreed, the matter will be referred to the magistrate’s court.
Abide by the decision of the court.
If you intend to institute 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.
Matters that can be taken to the Small Claims Court
You can go to the Small Claims Court for the following matters:
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)|
- Small Claims Court: Institute Your Own Claim (Public Information)
- Small Claims Courts Act (Act) (File type: pdf; size: 487.38 KB)