Alabama Small Claims Laws
Amount in Controversy Cannot Exceed $3,000
- In Alabama, small claims courts can resolve matters that do not exceed $3,000. This amount is "exclusive of interests and costs." A party may be able to receive more than $3,000 in a judgment, but the excess comes from any costs and interest awarded by the court. If the claim exceeds $3,000, it must be filed with the regular civil docket. To recover attorney fees in a small claims action the party against whom attorney fees are sought must be represented by an attorney.
Representation by Attorneys is Allowed
- Alabama allows parties to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. This is not required; parties can proceed on their own. However, a partner or an employee must represent a partnership (unless the partnership hires an attorney). Likewise, a full-time employee or a director must represent a corporation (unless the corporation hires a full-time attorney. Partnerships and corporations cannot be represented by, for example, the father of an employee of the partnership or corporation unless that person works for the business. If a party chooses to hire an attorney, that attorney must be licensed and in good standing to practice in Alabama.
Relaxed Civil Procedure Rules
- Alabama small claims courts do not require the parties to comply with the strict rules of civil procedure as would be the case if the action was filed on the regular civil docket. This means that evidentiary issues and other procedures such as objections are less formal. This also means that certain motions, such as discovery motions, may be limited by the court and will not be available to the parties. Despite the informal nature, parties must appeal adverse decisions by the small claims court with 14 days after judgment.