Can You Appeal A Small Claims Court Decision

Can you appeal a small claims court decision?

If you lost your case against the other party in small claims court, you may have the option to appeal the decision.

This is possible if someone initially filed the lawsuit against you.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are the Defendant on a Plaintiff’s Claim (meaning the Plaintiff sued you) or if you are the Plaintiff on the Defendant’s counterclaim (meaning the Defendant sued you), you have the right to appeal a judgment that goes against you.

The process of appealing a case involves requesting the Superior Court to reconsider the Small Claims Court’s original decision.

An appeal is often referred to as a “Trial de Novo” or a “New Trial” because it entails presenting your case to a new judge.

This new judge will be a part of the Superior Court, not the Small Claims Court.

Can You Appeal A Small Claims Court Decision

Before You File an Appeal in Small Claims Court:

Time Limit:

You must file the appeal within 30 days of the judgment date, which is typically when you receive the written judgment from the court.

Legal Representation:

You can have a lawyer represent you, as well as the other party involved.

Original Amount:

The appeal will be heard for the original amount in dispute.

Payment Hold:

You are not required to pay the Small Claims Court judgment while your appeal is being processed.

Potential Costs:

If the court finds that you filed the appeal to harass the other party, it may instruct you to pay up to $1,000 in attorney’s fees, up to $1,000 in lodging/transportation costs related to the appeal, and any actual lost earnings to the other party.

Distinguish from Motion to Vacate:

If you lost due to not attending your hearing and received a “default judgment,” you must file a motion to vacate (cancel) the judgment, not an appeal.

Appeals and motions to vacate serve different purposes.

Here’s How to File an Appeal in Small Claims Court:

Can you appeal a small claims court decision? Yes

  1. Complete the Form: Start by filling out the “Notice of Appeal (Small Claims)” Form SC-140.
  2. Pay the Filing Fee: Ensure you pay the necessary filing fee, and then submit the completed form to the Small Claims clerk’s office where the original judge presided over your case.
  3. Notification of Hearing: Expect to receive notification of the new hearing date for your appeal by mail. Both you and the other party involved will be informed of this date.
  4. Appeal Hearing Location: Keep in mind that your appeal hearing will take place in the civil division of the superior court.

How to Prepare for and Attend Your Appeal Hearing:

Gather Evidence and Witnesses:

Just like your initial hearing, prepare by collecting all your evidence and ensuring your witnesses are ready.

Don’t assume that the appeals judge will have access to your previously submitted evidence. If you have new evidence, bring it along.

Present Your Case Anew:

During the hearing, present your case in its entirety once more. The new judge will review everything as if it’s a fresh case.

Consider Legal Representation:

You have the option to hire an attorney for the appeal to help you navigate the process.

Request Recoverable Costs:

If you wish to have the other party cover any recoverable costs, make your request during the appeal hearing and provide proof (such as receipts or bills) demonstrating that the other party owes you these costs.

If you win, the judge may award you up to $150 in attorney fees and reimburse you for actual expenses related to the appeal, including transportation, lodging, and loss of earnings.

After Your Appeal:

If You Win:

  • The judgment becomes final, and you have no further obligations to the other party.

If You Lose:

  • There is no 30-day waiting period; you must immediately pay the determined amount from the appeal.
  • The judge will order you to pay the judgment amount along with interest and costs.
  • Interest accrues at a rate of 10% per year for every year the judgment remains unpaid.
  • Examples of costs you may owe the other party include those related to filing and service of process, any proven lost earnings by the plaintiff, and expenses for transportation or lodging associated with the appeal.
  • Attorney’s fees of up to $150 may also be awarded.

Leave a Comment