Justice Courts have authority to hear small claims cases (civil cases valued up to $15,000) that are within the court’s territorial jurisdiction (Lehi City limits). The court has authority to hear the case if the defendant resides in the jurisdiction, or if the cause of action arose within the jurisdiction. An assignee may not pursue a cause of action in small claims court. This means that a debt collection agency may not pursue a case in small claims court on behalf of another party. Such cases need to be filed in the District Court. (See § 78A-8-103, Utah Code.) The court may only give a monetary judgment. The court cannot issue injunctions, civil protective orders, or require any type of performance.
You may represent yourself in a small claims case. The procedures are designed to be easy enough that you do not need a lawyer. However, you may have a lawyer represent you in small claims court. You will not be penalized for either decision. Additionally, an employee may represent a corporation that is a party to a small claims case. Under Rule 13 of the Utah Rules of Small Claims Procedure, a non-attorney may only represent an individual in small claims if they are not being paid, and if the judge specifically allows it. While this may be allowed in some special circumstances, it is not typically allowed in the Lehi Justice Court.
You will find forms for the Lehi Justice Court in the Forms section of this website. Court Forms You may find additional information and instructions about small claims cases at the following: www.utcourts.gov/howto/smallclaims
Utah Rules of Small Claims Procedure www.utcourts.gov/resources/rules/srpe
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
Lehi Justice Court require all small claims cases to participate in an online process called Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).
Instead of going to trial at the courthouse at a specific date and time, the plaintiff and defendant work with a third party – a facilitator – to try to reach a solution using an online resolution system. A facilitator, who is a neutral person trained to help people reach an agreement, will work with both parties:
- If the defendant agrees they owe the money and all parties agree on the amount owed, the facilitator can help set up a payment plan.
- If the defendant agrees they owe the money but disagrees about the amount owed, the facilitator can help the parties come to an agreement on the amount owed.
- If the parties don’t come to an agreement, they still have the right to go to trial.
If the parties can’t come to an agreement with the facilitator’s help, the case will be scheduled for trial. The court will notify the parties of the date, time and place of the trial by sending an email to the address provided to the court clerk. If the parties do not attend the trial, the court may dismiss the case.
To be excused from ODR:
If either the plaintiff or defendant is unable to participate in ODR because of a disability, an inability to access the internet or because they do not speak English, they can request an exemption from the clerk’s office. The Small Claims case will then file a traditional Small Claims case and will go through mediation before a Small Claims Hearing or Trial will be set.
For more information and forms, see the ODR Pilot Project web page.
The Lehi Justice Court has implemented a mediation program whereby parties to a small claims case are required to mediate their case (without charge) prior to getting a trial date. The details of how this program works, and the reason for its implementation can be found here: MEDIATION.
If a defendant fails to appear for a small claims trial, a “default judgment” will be entered against the defendant. However, before a default judgment can be issued by the court, the plaintiff will be required to submit two documents. First, the plaintiff must have filed a “proof of service” with the court, documenting that the defendant was personally served with the small claims affidavit and had notice of the trial. A draft/example of a proof of service form can be found in the forms section of this website. [Link: to forms] Second, under federal law a court may not enter a default judgment without having the plaintiff verify that the defaulting defendant is not on active military status. Therefore, the defendant will have to submit a “military service declaration” and “order” to the court before a default judgment may be issued. These forms may be found in the forms section of this website. Court Forms
Collecting a Judgment:
After you have obtained a “judgment” in small claims court, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to collect that judgment. The court does not collect judgments on behalf of a plaintiff. For information about how to collect on a judgment, please see the following: www.utcourts.gov/howto/judgment/