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March 12, 2019
April 17, 2019

As of 1 April 2019, the Small Claims Court Jurisdiction has increased from R15 000 to R20 000.There are 414 small claims courts in South Africa, specifically engineered and aimed to make access to the courts more affordable and accessible to the man on the street.  Legal representation is not allowed in the court and each party, whether an individual or company, must represent themselves.

The following steps should be taken when instituting a claim in the small claims court:

  1. Make contact with the person you have a dispute with (the defendant) in writing and request them to settle your claim.

  3. If the defendant refuses to settle, proceed to send a letter of demand indicating all the facts and the specific amount that you are claiming. A letter of demand must be delivered by registered post. On receipt, the defendant is given 14 days within which to settle your claim.

  5. If the defendant does not settle the claim within the 14 day time period, you can contact the small claims court for assistance.

    You will require the following:

    • any contract or agreement between yourself and the defendant which proves the claim;
    • a copy of the letter of demand;
    • proof of delivery of the letter of demand e.g. a registered post slip;
    • the defendant’s personal contact details.

  7. The clerk of the court will prepare a summons which will force the person to attend court the set date and the summons must be delivered either by yourself or by the sheriff of the court to the defendant.

  9. On the day of the court hearing, you must take proof that the summons was delivered to the defendant. The court procedure is informal and not complicated. You will be expected to tell your story and answer questions from the Commissioner of the Small Claims Court.

  11. If judgment is granted in your favour, the defendant must pay the money (interest and expenses, as the case may be) usually within seven (7) days and will be issued with a receipt. If the defendant is not able to pay, the court can investigate their financial position and determine a payment plan. Alternatively, you can apply for a Warrant of Execution against the Defendant’s movable property.

  13. The matter will then be transferred to the Magistrate’s Court.


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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