At the beginning of April, Jackie a shop owner ordered for 1,000 small cakes from Betty‘s bakery. Betty delivered the cakes at 5,000 shillings each but Jackie did not pay her, saying she will pay towards the end of the month when she has got some money. The total cost of the transaction is 5,000,000 shillings.
April ended and Betty had not received any money at all. On contacting Jackie for the payment, Jackie promised to pay by 28th of May but that date has also passed.
Betty is in serious need of the money because she has pay school fees for her children who are about to go back to school.
Betty does not know what to do, she seriously wants the money but feels it will be too expensive to hire a lawyer to take the matter to court. What can Betty do?
Take the case to the Small Claims Court!
WHAT IS A SMALL CLAIM?
A small claim is defined as a matter whose subject matter does not exceed ten million shillings. This means that you can to sue another person for a lawyer (counsel) under the small claims law as long as what you are suing for does not exceed 10 million shillings. This means that Betty can bring her case as a small claim.
Small claims court rules prohibit lawyers from appearing for any of the parties. This means that even as Betty does not have a lawyer, she does not have to fear Jackie coming with her own lawyer- neither one of them is allowed a lawyer.
WHO CAN MAKE A SMALL CLAIM?
Only natural people can make a small claim- this means that a company cannot make a small claim, but it can be a defendant in a small claim. Since Betty is doing business as an entrepreneur (sole proprietor) she can bring this case against Jackie.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MAKING A SMALL CLAIM?
A small claim is very advantageous because it is cheaper than an ordinary lawsuit and much faster.
In July 2015 it was reported that the Small Claims Courts had made rulings for the recovery of 1 billion shillings in just 3 months.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE OF MAKING A SMALL CLAIM?
- Betty must give Jackie a written demand notice, requesting her to pay the money within 14 days. The notice has a special form.
- If payment is not made after the 14 days, then Betty may file her claim by way of filling what is called a claim form. with a copy of the notice of demand and an affidavit of service of the notice and any other documents which can be used as evidence of the money that she is owed.
- The judicial officer can then sign a summons which is supposed to be served upon the defendant either by the claimant personally or by a process server which is to be done within 7 days.
- When Jackie receives the summons she can satisfy the claim and the matter will end with Betty giving her a written acknowledgement and informing the Court of payment. If Jackie denies the claim she will have to file a written statement of defence which basically is her denying the claim. After this, the court is supposed to fix a hearing date and notice served on both parties.
If Jackie does not respond to the summons at all, when service is proved, the Court shall enter judgement for Betty.
- Where the matter goes to the stage of hearing, both Betty and Jackie will be allowed to appear in court and give their evidence as well as present their witnesses if any (without a lawyer).
After the case has been heard by the Judicial officer, the ruling will be made bringing the matter to an end and Betty will be able to recover her money (if she wins).
WHERE CAN I FIND A SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
The small claims courts we know of right now are in;