Want to file a Small Claims Court lawsuit in Irvine, California? We have summarized the relevant information you need to know for when you go to Irvine Small Claims Court.
In this article, learn about:
How to file a small claims lawsuit in Irvine.
Common types of small claims lawsuits
What to expect during a small claims hearing.
How much going to small claims costs.
Fun fact, lawyers are not allowed at the initial small claims hearing! This is to even the playing field so that each party has an equal chance of obtaining justice.
Address to the Irvine Small Claims Court
Harbor Justice Center - Newport Beach Facility
4601 Jamboree Road
Newport Beach, CA 92660
How do I contact the Small Claims Court Clerk?
Need to contact the Irvine Small Claims Court Clerk? Here is how:
The Irvine Small Claims Court Clerk is located on the 1st Floor of the Irvine Courthouse at 4601 Jamboree Road Newport Beach, CA 92660
Clerk's Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
(657) 622- 5400
Small Claims Clerk's Phone Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m..
Can I file my Small Claims Case in Irvine Small Claims Court?
You can always sue an individual Irvine Small Claims Court if they live in one of the zip codes assigned to the Irvine Courthouse. You can always sue a company in Irvine Small Claims Court if their business is located in one of the zip codes assigned to the Irvine Courthouse.
You may be able to sue in Irvine Small Claims in other situations. For example:
If you are suing about a car accident that occurred in Irvine
If you are suing about property damage to your house that occurred in Irvine.
If you have an issue with your Landlord returning the security deposit and the rented unit was in Irvine then you would be able to sue your landlord in Irvine Small Claims Court (you would also be able to sue your landlord in the small claims court in the county where they live).
If the defendant lives in the following cities/towns/areas then you can sue in Irvine Small Claims Court: Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano. However, some cities may also be assigned to a different Orange County Small Claims Court. Make sure to search for a list of cities assigned to the Irvine Courthouse before filing your case.
What types of small claims cases can be filed?
As long as there isn't another court better suited to file the lawsuit, then the lawsuit can be filed in small claims. The most common types of small claims lawsuits in Irvine or Orange county Small Claims Court are:
Landlord/Tenant disputes over the security deposit.
Landlord/Tenant disputes over unpaid rent.
Disputes over loans.
Contracts (written and verbal).
Disputes over auto repairs.
Disputes over remodeling or home repairs (disputes with contractors).
Damage caused to property.
How long do I have to File a Small Claims case in Irvine?
Do not wait to file your small claims court lawsuit! After an incident occurs, you only have a set period of time to file your lawsuit. Think of this as a deadline (called the statute of limitations). Once the deadline is reached, you cannot file your Irvine Small Claims Court lawsuit.
How much can I sue for in Irvine Small Claims?
This is also known as the "small claims court limits." In Orange County Small Claims you can sue for the following maximum amounts:
What are the Irvine Small Claims Court Filing Fees?
The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in Irvine depends on how much you are suing for. You will pay between $30 to $75 to file the lawsuit. If cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.
What are other costs for Small Claims Court?
In most small claims cases, you can expect to pay:
If you win, you can request that the losing party pay for your court fees and serving costs.
Irvine Small Claims Court Hearings
When will the Small Claims Hearing be?
Once a case is filed in Irvine Small Claims Court, the hearing will be scheduled within 30- 70 days.
You must serve the small claims lawsuit on the defendant at least 15 days before the hearing if the defendant lives or resides within Orange County. If the defendant resides outside of Orange County, you must serve them at least 20 days before the hearing.
Make sure to file "Proof of Service" at least 5 days before the hearing.
How to prepare for a Small Claims Court Hearing?
Research the law. If you are unsure about your case, conduct research about the relevant laws that apply to your case or consult an attorney.
Prepare your evidence. Invoices, contracts, receipts, etc. You want to have your evidence organized with titles, dates, and why that piece of evidence is important. All your evidence should be geared towards showing the judge why you are correct.
Prepare what to say. During the hearing, the judge will ask the person suing why they are suing. The judge will then ask the other party for their side of the story.
Get your receipts for costs ready. For example, your filing fees and any process server costs. Make sure to let the judge know that you would like to be reimbursed for costs.
Print enough copies of all your evidence. You will need at least three copies (one for you, one for the judge, one for the other side).
What happens on the hearing date?
Give yourself plenty of time.
You do not want to be late for your hearing. Give yourself plenty of time for parking and navigating the courthouse.
Once You Walk into the Courthouse...
Once you walk in, the first thing you will see is airport-like security. You will need to put your belongings through the metal detector. You can bring in laptops and cellphones, unlike some courthouses.
Read More: The Small Claims Hearing- Orange
Once you arrive at the small claims courtroom, locate your case on the paper schedule outside the courtroom door.
Outside of each courtroom, there will be a printed list of the cases that have hearings on that day.
You want to locate your case on the schedule. If you don't see your case listed, but you have received notice that your case will be heard that day, you may want to try and speak to the sheriff or clerk in the courtroom. If you are unable to speak to them, go to the small claims court clerk to verify.
Make sure to use that waiting time to organize your evidence or go to the restroom.
Once the courtroom is opened, the court clerk, sheriff, and judge will go through what to expect. You will be sitting in a room with other people who have filed small claims cases. You will get to watch the cases before yours. Make sure you are in the courtroom when your case is called!
Small Claims Mediation
Irvine Small Claims offers free mediation for small claims court cases. Free mediation for small claims is only available some days of the week.
What is mediation? Mediation is a meeting between both the plaintiff (the person suing) and the defendant (the person being sued) conducted by a neutral third-party (a mediator). The parties will meet with a mediator, discuss their case, and try to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Both parties must agree to mediation and it cannot be forced on them.
When will mediation occur? The court clerk, judge, or sheriff will announce if there are mediators available that day. Usually, the judge will tell the audience that if you opt for mediation, you can try to mediate the case while other hearings are being conducted. If you finish mediation early, then you get to "skip the line" and your case is processed faster.
If both parties show up:
Right before the hearing, the judge will ask the parties to show each other the evidence that they have brought with them.
The Judge will ask the person who is suing why they are suing.
Then the person who is being sued will get to present their side of the story.
The hearing will last around 15 minutes.
The judge will ask the parties to show the judge the evidence they brought with them. Sometimes the judge will keep the evidence other times you will get the evidence right back.
Very rarely will a judge tell the parties their decision immediately after the hearing. Instead, the judge will tell the parties that the decision will be mailed to them (usually takes a few weeks to two months or so).
Read more: The Small Claims Hearing- Orange
If only the plaintiff shows up:
The plaintiff (the person who is suing) has to still prove their case. The plaintiff will have to tell the judge why they are suing and provide enough evidence.
If only the defendant shows up:
The case gets dismissed without prejudice (meaning that the plaintiff can still file the case again later on.)
Are attorneys allowed in small claims court?
Attorneys are not allowed to represent parties at the initial hearing. If the defendant appeals the case, then attorneys are allowed to represent the parties at the appeal hearing.
You would not be able to hire a lawyer to represent you at the initial small claims court hearing.
Translators and Irvine Small Claims Court
Did you know that you can request a free interpreter/translator for your Irvine Small Claims Court case? Whether you are the person who is suing, the person being sued, or need an interpreter for your witness, Irvine Small Claims Court offers interpreters free of charge.
Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila is an attorney, consumer advocate, and certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.