What follows is a brief but informative summary of rules, procedures, and filings requirements for small claims court in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that rules and laws change. It’s always a good idea to confirm the rules with the court or with further research.
Maximum Jurisdictional Dollar Amount: The maximum dollar amount is $8,000 in District or Justice Court, but in Philadelphia Municipal Court: $10,000.
Where Suit May Be Brought: Cases should be brought where the defendant resides or is found or where breach or injury occurred. A corporation is deemed to reside where it has principal place of business.
Proper Manner of Service of Process upon Defendant: Service may be made by certified or registered mail, sheriff or court- approved disinterested adult.
How the Hearing Date Is Selected: Municipal Court: The hearing date is set by the court. District or Justice Court: 12-60 days from service.
Attorney Representation Rule: Attorneys are allowed and are required for corporations, except when corporation is defendant and claims is for more than $2,500 (Philadelphia Municipal Court).
Special Provisions Regarding Transfer or Jurisdiction of Cases: Municipal Court: If defendant counterclaims over jurisdictional limit, the case shall be tried in Court of Common Pleas. District or Justice Court: There is no provision.
Availability of Appeals: Either litigant may request an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas within 30 days.
Special Rules and Notes: In Philadelphia, Small Claims cases are heard in Municipal Court. Elsewhere, cases are heard in District or Justice Court.
In District or Justice Court, real estate cases are not allowed. The court may order installment payments, or the court may order arbitration. In Municipal Court, jury trials are not available.
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Michael Spadaccini is the author of 8 books on self-help legal matters such as, Ultimate LLC Compliance Guide: Covers All 50 States (Ultimate Series), Ultimate Book of Forming Corps, LLCs, Partnerships & Sole Proprietorships, and Ultimate Guide to Forming an LLC in Any State, Second Edition (Ultimate Series).
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