Why Aren’t Small Claims Courts Hearing Small Claims Matters?

On August 1, 2013, North Carolina’s General Assembly raised the amount small claims may hear from $5,000 to $10,000. But don’t be surprised if your local magistrate refers you to District Court for matters over $5,000.

Some Small Claims Courts in North Carolina have been refusing to hear legal matters for issues over $5,000. Right now, Wake, Durham, and Person counties are allowing amounts in controversy to be heard up to $10,000, while other counties, like Mecklenburg, are not.

When asked for comment, the clerk of court explained that they’re waiting for the Chief District Court Judge to sign an order allowing the magistrates to begin hearing amounts up to $10,000.

“It is not immediately clear why such an order is necessary”, said Merritt Webb Attorney Andrew Farris. Article IV, section 12 of the North Carolina Constitution provides, “The General Assembly shall, by general law uniformly applicable in every local court district of the State, prescribe the jurisdiction and powers of the District Courts and Magistrates.”

Attorney Aron Mefford ascribed the phenomenon to the court processes in individual counties. “Court process can vary considerably by county; especially in small claims court. In general, we see a more consistent and sophisticated set of practices in larger, more populous counties due to the larger case load those courts handle.”

Click here to read a copy of the enacted bill.

To watch a short video on how to file a small claims matter, click here.

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