Presenting your case in small claims court can be nerve-racking. The best thing you can do for your case is be thorough and organised. Providing evidence in a clear and understandable manner goes a long way in convincing the judge that you understand your case and you know what your rights are. Documentation helps as well. Gather receipts, letters, pictures and any recorded verbal correspondence you have and bring them to court.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Documentation of interaction
Create a plan before you go into court. Write down the main topics you want to address in your testimony in chronological order to establish a clear sequence of events. Be specific by including dates and times.
Attach documentation that supports your point. Label your documentation with its corresponding topic. If you have more than one document that supports a single topic, secure them together and make sure that you can access them quickly and in order. Make copies of your documentation so that you can give a copy to the judge. Highlight pertinent information on each document to make it easier for the judge to identify.
Appear in court 15 minutes early. Dress respectably and in business-like attire. Speak politely and calmly. Being nervous won't count against you, but being disrespectful or overly casual will.
Avoid getting emotional or insulting the other party. Present the facts of your case and allow the judge to make his decision based on the issues rather than your feelings.
Tips and warnings
- Accept the judge's decision unless there was a clerical or legal error.
- The plaintiff, or the one initiating the case, can appeal a judge's decision if he or she was unable to show up for court and the judge decided in favour of the defendant. The reason for missing court must be valid.
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