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Small Claims Court offers a quicker, easier and cost-effective way of resolving certain civil disputes that involve amounts up to R20 000 because you don’t need to have a lawyer. Even so, there are still certain legal steps you need to take in the process of going to Small Claims Court and you may be feeling a bit nervous about it. Scorpion Legal Protection is here to guide you through the process.
It’s important to start by noting that if you plan on taking someone to Small Claims Court, you must be sure that this person can actually pay what you’re claiming from them if the judgment is in your favour. It is useless to institute a claim against another person who is unemployed and who owns no property.
Before you approach Small Claims Court, you must send a letter of demand to the person who owes you money. You can get a free letter of demand from Scorpion Legal Protection here.
This letter will state that they have 14 days from the date of receiving the letter to pay you what they owe you. You must serve (deliver) the letter on the person you are demanding payment from in person or by registered mail.
If the person owing you money has not paid the claim in 14 days, go to the clerk of the court at your nearest Magistrate’s Court.
You must bring the following documents with you:
The clerk of the court will prepare a summons, which will force the person to come to court at the set date. This summons needs to be delivered to the person who owes you – either by you (with the assistance of the SAPS) or by the sheriff of the court.
Do not forget the date and time when your case will be heard, and make sure you are there to state your case. If you don’t show up, the case will be dismissed.
On the day of the court hearing, bring proof that you have served the summons on the person who owes you (called the defendant), as the court will not hear your case without such proof. 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.
If judgment is given in your favour, the defendant 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.
If the defendant still does not pay up as agreed in court, the matter will be referred to the Magistrate’s Court for execution processes.
You may also be interested in:
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If you have a query, follow Scorpion Legal Protection on Facebook and ask your question during our next Live Q&A (every first Thursday of the month from 11:30- 13:30).
* This is only basic paralegal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.
Date added: 25 October 2021
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