The Small Claims Courts are available to those who wish to institute a claim of a value up to R20 000.00.
Attorney may assist but not appear on behalf of a party in this Court
In terms of the legislation dealing with these courts, attorneys may not represent disputing parties in the Small Claims Courts. However, any party may approach an attorney beforehand for advice and assistance.
A claim in the Small Claims Court can be issued by a private individual against a private individual or against an organisation/company, as long as the value of the claim does not exceed R 20 000.
Which court has jurisdiction?
It is important to find out which court has jurisdiction over your matter, as this will be the court that you must approach to issue the summons.
Normally the Small Claims Court that has jurisdiction over the area where the defendant (the party against whom the claim is instituted) resides or carries on business, will hear the matter; alternatively the Small Claims Court closest to where the cause of action (the facts that gave rise to the dispute between the parties or where the incident occurred) arose.
What are the initial steps?
The legal process to institute proceedings is always important. If you want to institute a claim in the Small Claims Courts, the first step would be to draft and send a Letter of Demand to the person/party from which you are claiming. In an effort to make the process easier to the general public, there are template Letters of Demand which the Clerk of the Small Claims Court will assist you in completing. The Letter of Demand should state the amount you are claiming and the reason for the claim.
If the person/party from which you are claiming does not respond within the required time indicated in the Letter of Demand (usually 14 days) or pay the amount you have claimed, the next step would be to issue a Summons.
The processes in the Small Claims Courts are intended to be swift, inexpensive and uncomplicated. Provision is made at the Small Claims Courts for communication in all official languages in South Africa.
If you want know more about the Small Claims Courts, visit the Clerk of the Small Claims Court in closest to you and/or read the Small Claims Courts Act 61 of 1984.