Access to Justice can be a costly and complicated affair, leading government to provide an alternative to our mainstream courts. The idea is to help you resolve disputes in a “speedy, affordable and simple manner” using our Small Claims Court system.
Who can use the Small Claims Court? Who can you sue? What sorts of claims can you pursue? How much can you claim and what happens if your claim exceeds the limit?
We address all those questions, and end off with a thought on seeking legal advice when even a seemingly minor claim might have wider ramifications.
The monetary jurisdiction of Small Claims Courts has been increased from R15,000 to R20,000 from 1 April 2019.
Not all claims can be pursued in a Small Claims Court –
- Claims over R20,000 must be pursued in the ordinary courts (you can if you like reduce a larger claim to the R20k to avoid having to do that).
- Only individuals can sue in a Small Claims Court, i.e. not companies, close corporations etc.
- The State and local authorities can only be sued in the ordinary courts. Other than those exclusions, you can sue anyone including companies and the like.
- Certain types of claim (such as divorce matters, some damages claims, interdicts, will disputes etc) must also go to the ordinary courts.
Even if your claim qualifies for the Small Claims Court, think of asking your lawyer for guidance on whether it is your best course of action. Sometimes even seemingly minor claims can have wide ramifications, and there is no substitute for professional advice!