The Small Claims Court settles small disputes in the everyday life of individuals. The procedures are therefore deliberately simple and fast. However, they follow very specific rules.
The Small Claims Court has jurisdiction over civil disputes that are less than or equal to $ 15,000. These are small disputes in the everyday life between individuals or between an individual and a company: contractor, renovation company, travel agency, car mechanic, insurance company, telephone / Internet company, etc.
The Small Claims Court can be used to put an end to litigation by reconciling the parties. In practice, it is the Judge himself who conducts the conciliation attempt, asking each of the parties to present their arguments and trying to bring them to an amicable solution.
If an amicable solution is found, the Judge draws up a report to which the parties must comply.
If the conciliation attempt fails, the parties may proceed to trial, either immediately if the Judge is available or at a later date.
The conciliation attempt is not obligatory. However, it is very useful to quickly end litigation and save the inconvenience of a trial.
The Judge begins by giving the floor to the plaintiff to set out his arguments and requirements. Then, the defendant is invited to intervene to present his vision of the facts. The Judge may ask questions to either party to clarify certain points.
Written conclusions are optional. Indeed, the proceedings before the proximity judge are oral, that is to say that only what is exposed orally by the parties to the hearing can be retained by the judge.
In principle, the parties defend themselves.
However, the law allows them to be assisted or represented by:
In the case of representation, the representative (the representative) must have a power of attorney signed by the person he represents.
Before the Small Claims Court Judge, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. In other words, it is up to him to provide evidence of what he supports, and not his opponent to provide evidence of the opposite position. However, the defendant has the right to also provide his own evidence in order to better defend himself.
All evidence may be presented to the Judge: contracts, letters, photographs, objects, testimonies, etc. Only condition: these proofs must be lawful, that is to say that they must not have been obtained fraudulently (for example, by theft) or unfair (for example, by the registration of a person to without his knowledge).
Moreover, the proceedings before the Judge are contradictory. In other words, each party must communicate to his opponent, before the hearing, a copy of the evidence that he intends to present, even if the opponent is already aware of their existence (for example, letter written and signed by the opponent) .
When the defendant does not appear at the hearing when he has been properly informed, the Judge has two options:
At the end of the trial, the Judge can immediately render his decision or “put it in deliberate”, that is to say, make it later, after reflection. There must be a delay of about two to three months from the end of the trial. Then the decision is sent directly by mail to each of the parties.
Once the decision is rendered, the parties are required to comply. However, it is not uncommon for the sentenced party to refuse to obey spontaneously. In this case, the other party must request a bailiff to enforce the decision of the Judge, by all necessary legal means.
The decisions of the Judge can be challenged before the Court of Appeal only in cases where they relate to an indeterminate application (request not for the payment of a sum of money).
an appeal for review, where there has been dishonesty on the part of the other party during the trial (fraud, detention of documents or false testimony).