When Is Small Claims Court the Right Option for Your Business?

by | Mar 20, 2024

As a business owner, you’re likely to encounter your fair share of disputes. Whether it’s a customer who refuses to pay for a service, a contractor who didn’t deliver on a project, or a supplier who shipped you the wrong inventory, these disagreements can be costly and time-consuming to resolve.

In many cases, taking your opponent to court is the best way to get the compensation you deserve. However, traditional litigation can be expensive and complex, often putting it out of reach for small businesses with limited resources. Fortunately, there is an alternative: small claims court.

What is Small Claims Court?

Small claims court is for resolving minor civil disputes quickly and inexpensively, without the need for lawyers. The rules of procedure are less formal than in traditional courts, and the hearings are typically more informal.

What are the Benefits?



Filing fees in small claims court are much lower than in traditional courts. In some cases, you may even be able to waive the filing fee altogether.



Small claims cases are typically heard much faster than traditional lawsuits. This means you can get a resolution to your dispute more quickly.



The rules of procedure in small claims court are less formal than in traditional courts. This means you won’t need to worry about following strict legal procedures.


No lawyers required:

You are not required to have a lawyer represent you in small claims court. This can save you a significant amount of money.

What are the Limitations?


Damage limits:

In Rhode Island the maximum amount that you can recover is $5,000; in Massachusetts the limit is $7,000.


Complex cases:

If your case involves complicated legal issues, you may be better off hiring a lawyer and filing a traditional lawsuit.


Enforcing judgments:

If you win your case in small claims court, you will be responsible for collecting the judgment yourself. This can be difficult and time-consuming.

How do you file a small claims case?

1) Gather your evidence.

This includes any documents, contracts, or witness testimony that supports your case.

2) File your complaint.

The complaint is a document that outlines your claim against the defendant.

3) Serve the defendant.

The defendant must be properly served with the complaint and summons.

4) Attend your hearing.

The hearing is your opportunity to present your case to the judge.

5) Collect your judgment.

If you win your case, you will be entitled to collect a judgment from the defendant.

Tips for winning your small claims case:


Be prepared and be able to articulate your claims clearly and concisely.


Organize and present your evidence in a way that is easy for the judge to understand.


Be professional, dress appropriately and address the judge and the defendant respectfully.


Be honest, don’t try to lie or mislead the court.

If you are facing a minor civil dispute, consider using small claims court to resolve the matter quickly and affordably. Of course, every business situation is unique, and it is always best to consult with an attorney at Sayer, Regan & Thayer to discuss the specific facts of your case.