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Conciliation Court

Introduction

What Is Conciliation Court?

Conciliation court is often called “people’s court” or “small claims court” because its basic purpose is to help people recover relatively small sums of money without having to hire a lawyer. Conciliation court allows you to bring your legal disputes to a court without the hassles of confusing legal procedures and high costs. Court rules are generally simple and informal, and the cost of filing in conciliation court is low.

Who May Use Conciliation Court?

Any person (18 years or older), company, government agency, or organization may sue or be sued in conciliation court. A person under 18 may sue, or be sued, but they must be represented in court by a parent or guardian.

How Much Money Can You Recover?

The maximum amount you may recover through conciliation court is $15,000. (The maximum for consumer credit transactions is $4,000.)

You cannot file a claim in conciliation court that exceeds the monetary limit set by law. If you reduce your claim to the limit of conciliation court, you cannot claim more later. This rule may apply to any other claims related to the same incident. Obtaining a judgment in conciliation court may prevent you from bringing any other claims based on the same transaction or occurrence.

Do You Need an Attorney?

No. Court procedures are simplified to allow you to represent yourself. You may have an attorney only if the judge lets you. Also, the judge can decide how the attorney participates.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Conciliation Court?

Conciliation court doesn’t offer the best course of action in every situation. Generally, you may sue only for money. Disputes involving an amount of money greater than the maximum set by law cannot be determined in conciliation court. Lost or destroyed property or merchandise usually cannot be recovered. For example, if a dry cleaner loses your jacket, a conciliation court might order the dry cleaner to pay you money for your loss rather than order the cleaner to replace the jacket. In addition, conciliation court usually cannot be used to force delivery or completion (such as redoing a repair job or delivering merchandise). This kind of problem must usually be translated into financial terms, such as how much it will cost to have someone else make the repair.

Be Aware of These Facts:

In some situations, it may be quicker, more effective, and less troublesome to hire an attorney.

What Types of Complaints Do Conciliation Courts Handle?

In general, the types of cases handled include property damage, money disputes arising out of a tenant/landlord relationship, personal injury (actual medical bills only), losses due to bad checks, nonpayment for goods or services, or other bad claims involving real estate titles.

Generally, you can file a complaint in conciliation court when you can show that a person or business owes you money but won’t pay you.

Conciliation court may be used when:

Examples of situations in which you might consider using conciliation court include:

If you are uncertain about whether you can bring your claim, talk to your county’s conciliation court administrator. The court administrator will tell you if your claim can be heard there.