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Barbara Bavis, Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian, Law Library of Congress
Robert Brammer, Senior Legal Information Specialist, Law Library of Congress
Ashley Matthews, Content Management Intern, Law Library of Congress
Note: This guide is adapted from a research guide initially published on the Law Library's blog, In Custodia Legis.
Created: September 24, 2018
Last Updated: December 14, 2018
Someday you may find yourself in a dispute that does not seem worth pursuing because the amount in controversy is small. After all, you do not want to spend five thousand dollars on an attorney for a claim that, assuming you are even successful, is only worth five hundred dollars. However, there is one option that may be of help in a situation like this–small claims court.
Small claims court can be a cost-effective means of resolving a civil dispute where the amount in controversy is under a certain dollar amount (as specified in the rules of court). Small claims cases do not require, and in some jurisdictions may not even allow, representation of parties by attorneys. This eliminates a large expense associated with litigation, making it possible to pursue civil claims for lesser amounts. In small claims court, you and the defendant External present your arguments and evidence to the judge, and the judge translates your argument into a legal claim and rules accordingly.