Understanding small claims cases and how it works for you

In view of congested court dockets and the slow pace in our justice system, the Supreme Court (SC) created Small Claims Courts back in 2008. At present time, almost eight years after it was first introduced in the Philippines, most of our courts are still clogged with dockets, but as suggested by the reports of the SC, the Small Claims has been a huge success in, at least, disposing of monetary claims involving small amounts, and just this February 1, the SC increased the jurisdictional amount of small claims from an amount not exceeding P100,000 to an amount not exceeding P200,000, thereby guaranteeing wider coverage and better access to the courts by the underprivileged.

lorna patajo-kapunan1So what are exactly small claims? Small-claims cases are cases that are purely civil in nature, where the claim or relief prayed for by the plaintiff is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money not exceeding P200,000. Its purpose is to provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for collection of sum of money. Claims may arise out of money owed from a contract of lease, loan, services, sale or mortgage; it also covers liquidated damages arising from contracts and the enforcement of a barangay amicable settlement or an arbitration award involving a money claim.

The advantage of employing small-claims case is that it is expeditious, inexpensive and simplified. It is the effective method to get a legal order of payment against people who owe you money.

It is inexpensive because a party can appear in his own behalf, in fact, there is no need for a lawyer in small-claims cases because the hearing is conducted in an informal manner.

It is expeditious because a hearing shall proceed within not more than 30 days from the filing of the statement of claim by the petitioner and hearing shall be terminated in the same day, after such hearing, a decision must be made within 24 hours. Also, the decision is final, executory
and unappelable.

It is simplified because all the forms concerning small-claims cases are provided for by the court. In small-claims cases, the plaintiff would simply accomplish pre-drafted forms, thus, eliminating the need for the filing of pleadings.

Although under the Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases, the appearance of a lawyer at the hearing is not allowed, however, it is still best to consult a lawyer, especially in the preparation of all the necessary supporting documents and the statement of claim in order to increase the likelihood of a successful collection, because once the case is submitted for a decision, the judge would then base his decision only on the evidence submitted along with the statement of claims.


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