A Small Claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is $8,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees. Because Small Claims court is considered a “people’s court,” it is not necessary to have an attorney to file a claim. Forms to file a small claim case are available at the County Civil Department at the Clay County Courthouse and in the Forms section of this website. Attorneys are not precluded from this court but are not required. The Statement of Claim form is also available at the Clerk’s Office or on this website. The case should be filed in the county in which the incident took place. If the case is filed in the wrong county, the Defendant may ask the court to change the venue to the proper county.
The Florida Supreme Court in 2021 changed rules regarding redaction of certain court records. Please make sure you are informed and follow the correct protocols.
Click the following link to learn more about Redaction of Private Information.
When filing a Small Claims case, please ensure that the proper party is named in the suit. All businesses named should be verified for accuracy at the Division of Corporations at the Florida Department of State. The Summons should include the name of the Registered Agent of the corporation. Any attachments to the claim should include one copy for the court file and one copy to be served on each defendant.
The summons may be served by the Sheriff, a process server, or by certified mail. Certified mail can only be served within the State of Florida. Pursuant to the Florida Small Claims Rules, if a plaintiff serves by certified mail a return receipt signed by the defendant, or someone authorized to receive mail at the residence or principal place of business of the defendant is required.
Mediation and Pre-trial Conference
A Notice to Appear will be issued, attached to, and served with, the Statement of Claim and Plaintiff’s Statement. If the defendant(s) are served, the case will be referred to mediation first in an effort to aid the parties in settling the case. If the Plaintiff does not appear at mediation, the case is subject to being dismissed. If the Defendant does not appear and the Plaintiff is present, a Default Judgment may be entered. If both parties are present and the mediation is not successful, the mediator will send the parties back to the judge to hold a pre-trial conference. During the pre-trial conference, the judge will then narrow the factual issues to be resolved at trial and settle any legal issues which are subject to determination. If the case is not settled at this conference, the court will set a date, time and place for the trial. The Plaintiff and Defendant are not to bring any witnesses to the mediation or pre-trial conference.
The court does not collect the Judgment on the Plaintiff’s behalf. An information sheet may be obtained from the Clerk’s office which provides guidance on how to collect on the Judgment.
If you and the other party reach a settlement, the Clerk’s office must be notified in writing.