I recently had to take two of my clients to Small Claims Court in order to get paid and, although it was nerve-wracking and scary to prepare a case, appear in front of a judge and speak in front of a room full of people, it was so worth it.
I was owed $2,500 by one of my clients and another $550 from another. I had both matters heard the same day in the same court -- that worked out! I got my money in both cases.
Some tips for success now that I've done it three times:
1. Make sure you have sent out a letter or email requesting payment prior to filing your claim.
2. Make sure you have copies of all documents evidencing proof of why the money is owed to you and the agreements of the parties -- whether the agreements were a formal agreement or in an email or text.
3. Prepare, prepare! Write up a synopsis of your case and note the evidence that corresponds to your proof. These are called "exhibits" and they should be consequentively numbered and an extra set brought to court for the judge and to show the other side before the trial begins.
4. If it is a fee dispute, ALWAYS agree to a mediator. Most likely, you will settle, but if you don't, you can always see the judge afterwards.
5. You get to see the judge right away if your matter is uncontested because the other party doesn't show up.
6. If you win in Small Claims Court, you also get your costs on top of the requested amount owing.
I was really lucky in that both my matters paid me right away. In most cases, you end up with a money judgment, and then you have to figure out how to collect on it. However, nothing sought, nothing gained!
For me, the work to file the Small Claims Demand, the f/