Table of Contents
Florida Rules of Civil ProcedureIt is important to be familiar with the Small Claims Rules since not all Florida Rules of Civil Procedure will apply to your case. The Small Claims Rules specifically provide that only Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.090(a), (b), and (c); 1.190(e); 1.210(b); 1.260; 1.410; and 1.560 are applicable in small claims actions. Furthermore, the Small Claims Rules permit that any party represented by an attorney is subject to discovery pursuant to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.280–1.380 directed at said party, without order of court. If a party not represented by an attorney directs discovery to a party represented by an attorney, the represented party may also use discovery pursuant to the above-mentioned rules without leave of court. When a party is not represented by an attorney, and has not initiated discovery pursuant to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.280–1.380, the opposing party shall not be entitled to initiate such discovery without leave of court. However, the time for such discovery procedures may be prescribed by the court. It is also imperative to note that in any particular action, the court may order that action to proceed under one or more additional Florida Rules of Civil Procedure on application of any party or the stipulation of all parties or on the court’s own motion. Therefore, it is possible that other Florida Rules of Civil Procedure may apply in your case.
TrialsThe Small Claims Rules also set forth the process for trials. The Rules allow jury trials upon written demand of the plaintiff at the beginning of the lawsuit, or by the defendant within ten days after service of the summons/notice to appear or at the pretrial conference. Otherwise, the jury trial will be deemed waived and the case will proceed to a bench trial before the sitting judge.
The Small Claims Rules also provide the following in regards to trials:
- Time. The trial date shall be set by the court at the pretrial conference.
- Determination. Issues shall be settled and motions determined summarily.
- Pretrial. The pretrial conference should narrow contested factual issues. The case may proceed to trial with the consent of both parties.
- Settlement. At any time before judgment, the judge shall make an effort to assist the parties in settling the controversy by conciliation or compromise.
- Unrepresented Parties. In an effort to further the proceedings and in the interest of securing substantial justice, the court shall assist any party not represented by an attorney on: (1) courtroom decorum; (2) order of presentation of material evidence; and (3) handling private information.
- How Conducted. The trial may be conducted informally but with decorum befitting a court of justice. The rules of evidence applicable to trial of civil actions apply but are to be liberally construed. At the discretion of the court, testimony of any party or witness may be presented over the telephone. Additionally, at the discretion of the court an attorney may represent a party or witness over the telephone without being physically present before the court. Any witness utilizing the privilege of testimony by telephone as permitted in this rule shall be treated for all purposes as a live witness, and shall not receive any relaxation of evidentiary rules or other special allowance. A witness may not testify over the telephone in order to avoid either the application of Florida’s perjury laws or the rules of evidence.
Florida Small Claims RulesMore specifically, the Florida Small Claims Rules set forth the following rules:
- Rule 7.010: Title and Scope
- Rule 7.020. Applicability of Rules of Civil Procedure
- Rule 7.040. Clerical and Administrative Duties of Clerk
- Rule 7.050. Commencement of Action; Statement of Claim
- Rule 7.060. Process and Venue
- Rule 7.070. Method of Service of Process.
- Rule 7.080. Service and Filing of Pleadings and Documents Other Than Statement of Claim
- Rule 7.090. Appearance; Defensive Pleadings; Trial Date
- Rule 7.100. Counterclaims; Setoffs; Third-Party Complaints; Transfer When Jurisdiction Exceeded
- Rule 7.110. Dismissal of Actions
- Rule 7.130. Continuances and Settlements
- Rule 7.135. Summary Disposition
- Rule 7.140. Trial
- Rule 7.150. Jury Trials
- Rule 7.160. Failure Of Plaintiff Or Both Parties To Appear
- Rule 7.170. Default; Judgment
- Rule 7.175. Costs and Attorneys’ Fees
- Rule 7.180. Motions for New Trial; Time for; Contents
- Rule 7.190. Relief from Judgment or Order; Clerical Mistakes
- Rule 7.200. Executions
- Rule 7.210. Stay of Judgment and Execution
- Rule 7.220. Supplementary Proceedings
- Rule 7.221. Hearing in Aid of Execution
- Rule 7.230. Appellate Review
The Florida Small Claims Rules provides the following forms for litigants:
- Form 7.310. Caption
- Form 7.315. Designation Of E-Mail Address For Party Not Represented By An Attorney
- Form 7.316. Change Of Address
- Form 7.322. Summons/Notice to Appear for Pretrial Conference
- Form 7.323. Pretrial Conference Order And Notice Of Trial
- Form 7.330. Statement Of Claim (Auto Negligence)
- Form 7.331. Statement Of Claim (For Goods Sold)
- Form 7.332. Statement Of Claim (For Work Done And Materials Furnished)
- Form 7.333. Statement Of Claim (For Money Lent)
- Form 7.334. Statement Of Claim (Promissory Note)
- Form 7.335. Statement Of Claim (For Return Of Stolen Property From Pawnbroker)
- Form 7.336. Statement Of Claim For Replevin (For Return Of Personal Property/Weapon From Government Entity)
- Form 7.337. Statement Of Claim (Account Stated)
- Form 7.340. Final Judgment
- Form 7.341. Execution
- Form 7.342. Ex Parte Motion And Order For Hearing In Aid Of Execution
- Form 7.343. Fact Information Sheet
- Form 7.344. Order To Show Cause
- Form 7.345. Stipulation For Installment Settlement, Order Approving Stipulation, And Dismissal
- Form 7.347. Satisfaction Of Judgment
- Form 7.350. Authorization To Allow Employee To Represent Business Entity At Any Stage Of Lawsuit
- Form 7.351. Format For Defendant’s Motion
- Form 7.352. Defendant’s Motion To Continue
- Form 7.353. Defendant’s Motion To Invoke The Rules Of Civil Procedure