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This entry was published on 2022-09-02
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Commencement of action upon small claims
Uniform Justice Court Act (UJC) CHAPTER 898, ARTICLE 18
§ 1803. Commencement of action upon small claims.

(a) Small claims shall be commenced upon the payment by the claimant
of a filing fee of ten dollars for claims in the amount of one thousand
dollars or less and fifteen dollars for claims in the amount of more
than one thousand dollars, without the service of a summons and, except
by special order of the court, without the service of any pleading other
than a statement of his cause of action by the claimant or someone in
his behalf to the clerk, who shall reduce the same to a concise, written
form and record it in a filing system maintained especially for such
purpose. Such procedure shall provide for the sending of notice of such
claim by ordinary first class mail and certified mail with return
receipt requested to the party complained against (1) at his residence,
if he resides within the county and his residence is known to the
claimant, (2) at his office or place of regular employment within the
municipality if he does not reside within the county or his residence
within the county is not known to the claimant, or (3) where claimant is
or was a tenant or lessee of real property owned by the defendant and
the claim relates to such tenancy or lease and the notice of claim
cannot be sent under paragraph one or two of this subdivision, at any
place in the county or an adjoining county where claimant may mail or
otherwise deliver rent. If, after the expiration of twenty-one days,
such ordinary first class mailing has not been returned as
undeliverable, the party complained against shall be presumed to have
received notice of such claim. Such notice shall include a clear
description of the procedure for filing a counterclaim, pursuant to
subdivision (c) of this section.

Such procedure shall further provide for an early hearing upon and
determination of such claim. No filing fee, however, shall be demanded
or received on small claims of employees who shall comply with section
nineteen hundred twelve of this act which is hereby made applicable,
except that necessary mailing costs shall be paid.

(b) The clerk shall furnish every claimant, upon commencement of the
action, with information written in clear and coherent language which
shall be prescribed and furnished by the office of court administration,
concerning the small claims court. Such information shall include, but
not be limited to, an explanation of the following terms and procedures;
adjournments, counterclaims, jury trial requests, subpoenas,
arbitration, collection methods and fees, the responsibility of the
judgment creditor to collect data on the judgment debtor's assets, the
ability of the court prior to entering judgment to order examination of
or disclosure by, the defendant and restrain him, the utilization of
section eighteen hundred twelve of this article concerning treble damage
awards and information subpoenas including, but not limited to, specific
questions to be used on information subpoenas, and the claimant's right
to notify the appropriate state or local licensing or certifying
authority of an unsatisfied judgment if it arises out of the carrying
on, conducting or transaction of a licensed or certified business or if
such business appears to be engaged in fraudulent or illegal acts or
otherwise demonstrates fraud or illegality in the carrying on,
conducting or transaction of its business. The information shall be
available in English. Large signs in English shall be posted in
conspicuous locations in each small claims court clerk's office,
advising the public of its availability.

(c) A defendant who wishes to file a counterclaim shall do so by
filing with the clerk a statement containing such counterclaim within
five days of receiving the notice of claim. At the time of such filing
the defendant shall pay to the clerk a filing fee of three dollars plus
the cost of mailings which are required pursuant to this subdivision.
The clerk shall forthwith send notice of the counterclaim by ordinary
first class mail to the claimant. If the defendant fails to file the
counterclaim in accordance with the provisions of this subdivision, the
defendant retains the right to file the counterclaim, however the
claimant may, but shall not be required to, request and obtain
adjournment of the hearing to a later date. The claimant may reply to
the counterclaim but shall not be required to do so.