Small Claims Courts
Please contact your nearest Regional Office if you have any enquiries or complaints.
For more information regarding the Small Claims Courts, please approach the Small Claims Court Clerks at your nearest Magistrate’s Office.
Small Claims Courts offer a quicker and easier way of resolving disputes that involve amounts limited to R15 000.
You do not need a lawyer to represent you at a small claims court. All official languages may be used in a small claims court.
Who may institute a claim?
Anyone except juristic persons such as Companies, Close Corporations and Associations. A person under 18 must be assisted by a parent or legal guardian.
Against whom may a claim be instituted?
With the exception of the State, against anyone, including Companies, Close Corporations and Associations. NB: Please note that claims cannot be instituted against Municipalities/Local Government in a Small Claims Court.
What amount can be claimed?
An amount not exceeding R 15 000. (This amount is determined by the Minister from time to time in the Government Gazette. Latest: G 37450 RG 10153 GoN 185, 18 Mar 2014. If your claim exceeds R 15 000 in value, you can institute a claim for a lesser amount to pursue your case in the Small Claims Court.
STEPS TO FOLLOW
Cautionary principle for persons using the Small Claim Courts.
If you intend instituting a claim in the Small Claims Court, ensure that the opposing party is able to compensate you should the judgment be in your favour. It is futile to institute a claim against another person who is unemployed and who possesses no property.
CONTACT THE PERSON WHOM YOU HAVE A DISPUTE WITH
Contact the person with whom you have a dispute in person, in writing or telephonically and ask them to settle your claim.
GO TO THE CLERK OF THE COURT
If the person owing your money has not paid the claim in 14 days, go to the small claims court with:
• a copy of the letter of demand.
• any contract or agreement between you and the person which proves the claim
• a post slip or any other document that proves that the letter of demand was handed to the person.
• The person’s personal and contact details.
The clerk of the court will prepare a summons which will force the person to come to court at the set date. The summons will be delivered by you or the sheriff of the court. Please always remember the date and time during which your case will be heard.
On the day of the court hearing, you must bring proof that the summons was delivered to the person you are claiming from. The court procedure is informal and not complicated. You will be expected to tell your story and answer questions from the commissioner of the small claims court.
WRITE A LETTER TO THE PERSON WHO OWES YOU
If the person who, for example; owes you money refuses to pay, they should then be sent a letter of demand which indicates all the facts and the specific amount you are claiming.
The letter must be delivered in person or by registered mail (the Post Office can assist). Once the person receives the letter, they are given 14 days within which to settle your claim.
If judgment is given in your favour, the person must pay the money immediately and will be issued a receipt. If they are not able to pay, the court will investigate their financial position and determine a payment plan.
FAILURE TO COMPLY
If the person does not settle the dispute as agreed, the matter will be referred to the magistrate’s court.
***Download this as a PDF: Step-by-step Guide
- The above-mentioned merely informs you of the most important steps to be taken with regard to the institution of a case in the small claims court.
- Should you require assistance with any matter at all, the address and telephone number of the clerk of the small claims court can be obtained from your local magistrate’s office.