How to appeal a small claims court decision

Updated March 23, 2017

Small claims court is a valuable tool for the average person looking to reclaim money or property. Because the system is a more informal branch of the court system, an attorney is not required. The amount of money that can be recovered from a small claim action is generally well under £6,500. Local laws vary dramatically as to the exact amounts that can be court ordered, but small claims court is not a court for larger legal actions in any state. If you have received a judgment in small claims court with which you do not agree, you may have the option to appeal the decision depending on your jurisdiction.

Contact the court office in your area. You will need to ask them what the local appeal regulations are and determine what your time frame is to file an appeal. Most small claims courts allow anywhere from ten to thirty days to file your appeal. In most states, only the defendant can file an appeal. There may also be other restrictions in your area.

Order a copy of the transcript from your small claims case. Some states allow you to appeal on any grounds, whereas other jurisdictions require that there is some legal error in order to file an appeal. Once you have obtained your transcript, you can use it to demonstrate the grounds of your appeal. You always have the option of contacting an attorney or proceeding with the appeal on your own.

Decide with all of the information you have gathered whether the appeal is worth your time and effort. You will need to make sure you keep in mind the time and effort you have already expended towards the case and compare that to what you hope to gain. If you have decided to use an attorney on your appeal, you will also need to factor in the cost of legal services.

File the appropriate paperwork with the small claims appeals court in your jurisdiction.


Most small claim court judgments are not appealed simply because it is rarely beneficial to fight the decision. If you decide to appeal, attend a few appeals in person to become familiar with the process, which might be considerably more formal than small claims court.

Things You'll Need

  • Small claims transcript
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About the Author

Cricket Webber began writing for fun as a young adult and started writing professionally in 2010. She is based in the deep South. Webber specializes in articles on greener living. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Converse College.