Most people are not aware of the Small Claims Department of the Circuit Courts, an extension to the court system in Oregon. The Small Claims Departments are available to any person or business that believe they have a claim that does not exceed $10,000. Except as specifically stated in the statute, an action for the recovery of money, damages, specific personal property, or any penalty or forfeiture may be commenced and prosecuted in the small claims department (ORS 46.405(1)). However, prior to proceeding to litigate the dispute, all litigants must first mediate the dispute (parties have a neutral party and try to resolve the issues at hand).
The Small Claims Departments also do not allow attorneys, without the permission from the court. This allows the public to present their matters to the court (or jury) in which the cases can be heard in an informal setting allowing the parties to offer evidence and testimony of witnesses, while allowing the courts to dispense justice promptly and economically between litigants. This further keeps the costs of litigating a dispute nominal to the participants.
Additionally, small claim actions are a very quick resource to litigating a dispute. Once a party files their small claim action, they must have the defendant served (by the same process of a civil summons or certified mail-with specific requirements) and the defendant has fourteen (14) days to pay the claim (plus specific fees), demand a hearing or demand a jury trial. Once the defendant complies with one of the choices noted, the case will either be dismissed or set for trial, depending on the choice made by the defendant.
If the matter goes to trial, both parties can present their case to a judge or jury. The prevailing party of the action will be entitled to their judgment as rendered, their filing and court costs and a prevailing party award. If the judgment is $3,000 or more, the judgment will create a lien.
The above is just a brief summary of the small claims process. The entire section governing the Small Claims Department of the Oregon Circuit Courts can be found at https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors046.html.
This Blog is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. We are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice. Should you require legal advice, please seek a licensed attorney. All information above, can be found in Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 46-Small Claims Department of Circuit Court.