2009 California Code of Civil Procedure - Section 116.210-116.270 :: Article 2. Small Claims Court

CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
SECTION 116.210-116.270

116.210.  In each superior court there shall be a small claims
division. The small claims division may be known as the small claims
court.

116.220.  (a) The small claims court has jurisdiction in the
following actions:
   (1) Except as provided in subdivisions (c), (e), and (f), for
recovery of money, if the amount of the demand does not exceed five
thousand dollars ($5,000).
   (2) Except as provided in subdivisions (c), (e), and (f), to
enforce payment of delinquent unsecured personal property taxes in an
amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), if the legality
of the tax is not contested by the defendant.
   (3) To issue the writ of possession authorized by Sections 1861.5
and 1861.10 of the Civil Code if the amount of the demand does not
exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000).
   (4) To confirm, correct, or vacate a fee arbitration award not
exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) between an attorney and
client that is binding or has become binding, or to conduct a hearing
de novo between an attorney and client after nonbinding arbitration
of a fee dispute involving no more than five thousand dollars
($5,000) in controversy, pursuant to Article 13 (commencing with
Section 6200) of Chapter 4 of Division 3 of the Business and
Professions Code.
   (5) For an injunction or other equitable relief only when a
statute expressly authorizes a small claims court to award that
relief.
   (b) In any action seeking relief authorized by paragraphs (1) to
(4), inclusive, of subdivision (a), the court may grant equitable
relief in the form of rescission, restitution, reformation, and
specific performance, in lieu of, or in addition to, money damages.
The court may issue a conditional judgment. The court shall retain
jurisdiction until full payment and performance of any judgment or
order.
   (c) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the small claims court has
jurisdiction over a defendant guarantor as follows:
   (1) For any action brought by a natural person against the
Registrar of the Contractors' State License Board as the defendant
guarantor, the small claims jurisdictional limit stated in Section
116.221 shall apply.
   (2) For any action against a defendant guarantor that does not
charge a fee for its guarantor or surety services, if the amount of
the demand does not exceed two thousand five hundred dollars
($2,500).
   (3) For any action brought by a natural person against a defendant
guarantor that charges a fee for its guarantor or surety services,
if the amount of the demand does not exceed six thousand five hundred
dollars ($6,500).
   (4) For any action brought by an entity other than a natural
person against a defendant guarantor that charges a fee for its
guarantor or surety services or against the Registrar of the
Contractors' State License Board as the defendant guarantor, if the
amount of the demand does not exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000).
   (d) In any case in which the lack of jurisdiction is due solely to
an excess in the amount of the demand, the excess may be waived, but
any waiver is not operative until judgment.
   (e) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), in any action filed by a
plaintiff incarcerated in a Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation facility, the small claims court has jurisdiction over
a defendant only if the plaintiff has alleged in the complaint that
he or she has exhausted his or her administrative remedies against
that department, including compliance with Sections 905.2 and 905.4
of the Government Code. The final administrative adjudication or
determination of the plaintiff's administrative claim by the
department may be attached to the complaint at the time of filing in
lieu of that allegation.
   (f) In any action governed by subdivision (e), if the plaintiff
fails to provide proof of compliance with the requirements of
subdivision (e) at the time of trial, the judicial officer shall, at
his or her discretion, either dismiss the action or continue the
action to give the plaintiff an opportunity to provide that proof.
   (g) For purposes of this section, "department" includes an
employee of a department against whom a claim has been filed under
this chapter arising out of his or her duties as an employee of that
department.

116.221.  In addition to the jurisdiction conferred by Section
116.220, the small claims court has jurisdiction in an action brought
by a natural person, if the amount of the demand does not exceed
seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500), except for actions
otherwise prohibited by subdivision (c) of Section 116.220 or
subdivision (a) of Section 116.231.

116.221.  In addition to the jurisdiction conferred by Section
116.220, the small claims court has jurisdiction in an action brought
by a natural person, if the amount of the demand does not exceed
seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500), except for actions
otherwise prohibited by subdivision (c) of Section 116.220 or
subdivision (a) of Section 116.231.

116.222.  If the action is to enforce the payment of a debt, the
statement of calculation of liability shall separately state the
original debt, each payment credited to the debt, each fee and charge
added to the debt, each payment credited against those fees and
charges, all other debits or charges to the account, and an
explanation of the nature of those fees, charges, debits, and all
other credits to the debt, by source and amount.

116.222.  If the action is to enforce the payment of a debt, the
statement of calculation of liability shall separately state the
original debt, each payment credited to the debt, each fee and charge
added to the debt, each payment credited against those fees and
charges, all other debits or charges to the account, and an
explanation of the nature of those fees, charges, debits, and all
other credits to the debt, by source and amount.

116.225.  An agreement entered into or renewed on or after January
1, 2003, establishing a forum outside of California for an action
arising from an offer or provision of goods, services, property, or
extensions of credit primarily for personal, family, or household
purposes that is otherwise within the jurisdiction of a small claims
court of this state is contrary to public policy and is void and
unenforceable.

116.230.  (a) In a small claims case, the clerk of the court shall
charge and collect only those fees authorized under this chapter.
   (b) If the party filing a claim has filed 12 or fewer small claims
in the state within the previous 12 months, the filing fee is the
following:
   (1) Thirty dollars ($30) if the amount of the demand is one
thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) or less.
   (2) Fifty dollars ($50) if the amount of the demand is more than
one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) but less than or equal to
five thousand dollars ($5,000).
   (3) Seventy-five dollars ($75) if the amount of the demand is more
than five thousand dollars ($5,000).
   (c) If the party has filed more than 12 other small claims in the
state within the previous 12 months, the filing fee is one hundred
dollars ($100).
   (d) (1) If, after having filed a claim and paid the required fee
under paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), a party files an amended
claim or amendment to a claim that raises the amount of the demand so
that the filing fee under paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) would be
charged, the filing fee for the amended claim or amendment is twenty
dollars ($20).
   (2) If, after having filed a claim and paid the required fee under
paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), a party files an amended claim or
amendment to a claim that raises the amount of the demand so that the
filing fee under paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) would be charged,
the filing fee for the amended claim or amendment is twenty-five
dollars ($25).
   (3) If, after having filed a claim and paid the required fee under
paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), a party files an amended claim or
amendment to a claim that raises the amount of the demand so that the
filing fee under paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) would be charged,
the filing fee for the amended claim or amendment is forty-five
dollars ($45).
   (4) The additional fees paid under this subdivision are due upon
filing. The court shall not reimburse a party if the party's claim is
amended to demand a lower amount that falls within the range for a
filing fee lower than that originally paid.
   (e) Each party filing a claim shall file a declaration with the
claim stating whether that party has filed more than 12 other small
claims in the state within the last 12 months.
   (f) The clerk of the court shall deposit fees collected under this
section into a bank account established for this purpose by the
Administrative Office of the Courts and maintained under rules
adopted by or trial court financial policies and procedures
authorized by the Judicial Council under subdivision (a) of Section
77206 of the Government Code. The deposits shall be made as required
under Section 68085.1 of the Government Code and trial court
financial policies and procedures authorized by the Judicial Council.
   (g) (1) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall distribute
six dollars ($6) of each thirty-dollar ($30) fee, eight dollars ($8)
of each fifty-dollar ($50) fee, ten dollars ($10) of each
seventy-five-dollar ($75) fee, and fourteen dollars ($14) of each one
hundred-dollar ($100) fee collected under subdivision (b) or (c) to
a special account in the county in which the court is located to be
used for the small claims advisory services described in Section
116.940, or, if the small claims advisory services are administered
by the court, to the court. The Administrative Office of the Courts
shall also distribute two dollars ($2) of each seventy-five-dollar
($75) fee collected under subdivision (b) to the law library fund in
the county in which the court is located.
   (2) From the fees collected under subdivision (d), the
Administrative Office of the Courts shall distribute two dollars ($2)
to the law library fund in the county in which the court is located,
and three dollars ($3) to the small claims advisory services
described in Section 116.940, or, if the small claims advisory
services are administered by the court, to the court.
   (3) Records of these moneys shall be available from the
Administrative Office of the Courts for inspection by the public on
request.
   (4) Nothing in this section precludes the court or county from
contracting with a third party to provide small claims advisory
services as described in Section 116.940.
   (h) The remainder of the fees collected under subdivisions (b),
(c), and (d) shall be transmitted monthly to the Controller for
deposit in the Trial Court Trust Fund.
   (i) All money distributed under this section to be used for small
claims advisory services shall be used only for providing those
services as described in Section 116.940. Nothing in this section
shall preclude the county or the court from procuring other funding
to comply with the requirements of Section 116.940.

116.231.  (a) Except as provided in subdivision (d), no person may
file more than two small claims actions in which the amount demanded
exceeds two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), anywhere in the
state in any calendar year.
   (b) Except as provided in subdivision (d), if the amount demanded
in any small claims action exceeds two thousand five hundred dollars
($2,500), the party making the demand shall file a declaration under
penalty of perjury attesting to the fact that not more than two small
claims actions in which the amount of the demand exceeded two
thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) have been filed by that party
in this state within the calendar year.
   (c) The Legislature finds and declares that the pilot project
conducted under the authority of Chapter 1196 of the Statutes of 1991
demonstrated the efficacy of the removal of the limitation on the
number of actions public entities may file in the small claims courts
on claims exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500).
   (d) The limitation on the number of filings exceeding two thousand
five hundred dollars ($2,500) does not apply to filings where the
claim does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) that are filed
by a city, county, city and county, school district, county office of
education, community college district, local district, or any other
local public entity. If any small claims action is filed by a city,
county, city and county, school district, county office of education,
community college district, local district, or any other local
public entity pursuant to this section, and the defendant informs the
court either in advance of the hearing by written notice or at the
time of the hearing, that he or she is represented in the action by
legal counsel, the action shall be transferred out of the small
claims division. A city, county, city and county, school district,
county office of education, community college district, local
district, or any other local public entity may not file a claim
within the small claims division if the amount of the demand exceeds
five thousand dollars ($5,000).

116.232.  A fee of ten dollars ($10) shall be charged and collected
from the plaintiff for each defendant to whom the court clerk mails a
copy of the claim under Section 116.340. This fee shall be
distributed to the court in which it was collected.

116.240.  (a) With the consent of the parties who appear at the
hearing, the court may order a case to be heard by a temporary judge
who is a member of the State Bar, and who has been sworn and
empowered to act until final determination of the case.
   (b) Prior to serving as a temporary judge in small claims court,
on and after July 1, 2006, and at least every three years thereafter,
each temporary judge shall take the course of study offered by the
courts on ethics and substantive law under rules adopted by the
Judicial Council. The course shall include, but not be limited to,
state and federal consumer laws, landlord-tenant law along with any
applicable county specific rent deposit law, the state and federal
Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts, the federal Truth in Lending
Act, the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, the federal Electronic Fund
Transfer Act, tort law, and contract law, including defenses to
contracts and defenses to debts. On substantive law, the courts may
receive assistance from the Department of Consumer Affairs, to the
extent that the department is fiscally able to provide that
assistance.

116.250.  (a) Sessions of the small claims court may be scheduled at
any time and on any day, including Saturdays, but excluding other
judicial holidays.
   (b) Each small claims division of a superior court with seven or
more judicial officers shall conduct at least one night session or
Saturday session each month for the purpose of hearing small claims
cases other than small claims appeals. The term "session" includes,
but is not limited to, a proceeding conducted by a member of the
State Bar acting as a mediator or referee.

116.260.  In each county, individual assistance shall be made
available to advise small claims litigants and potential litigants
without charge as provided in Section 116.940 and by rules adopted by
the Judicial Council.

116.270.  Any small claims division may use law clerks to assist the
judge with legal research of small claims cases.


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