The Small Claims Court Israel – Legal Advice
The Small Claims court in Israel allows the resolution of legal disputes about civil or consumer grievances without the need to hire a lawyer or undertake unnecessary expenses. Most small claims are submitted regarding financial matters involving easily quantifiable damages. The Israeli small claims court may judge disputes regarding a product or service, payments from insurance companies, and the like.
The Israeli law firm of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, specializes in civil law. This article by attorney Nehama Ovadia will explain how to correctly file a claim in the Israeli Small Claims Court.
What is a small claim and who can submit one?
Any victim of a civil wrong or a wronged consumer can file a claim in the Small Claims Court. A small claim may be filed against a private person, supplier, corporation, etc. The rules and legal procedure for filing a small claim are different from those of an “ordinary” legal procedure:
Type of claimants / plaintiffs – a small claim can only be filed by an individual private person. Municipalities, companies, and class action suits all file their claims at a different appropriate jurisdiction.
Legal representation – in the small claims court, the parties are not represented by an attorney. This stops the defendant from hiring an expensive lawyer while the claimant cannot afford the same expertise on their side, particularly given the relatively minor sums involved. In order to place the parties on equal footing, all parties represent themselves before the judge at the Israeli small claims court.
The amount of the claim: as of 2019, a small claim can be filed for damages up to NIS 33,400, the amount being updated in accordance with the changes in the index. If the amount of the claim is greater, the claimant may move their claim to another court or waive part of the claim.
Fees – In order to file a small claim, a fee of 1% of the amount of the claim is required.
Legal proceedings – Unlike regular courts, where civil procedure regulations are rigid and clear, the proceedings in the small claims court are more flexible. The plaintiff is not expected to be fully conversant of legal niceties and rules. The dates for submission of defense statements and the time it takes to reach a decision are shorter. A judgment may be received without a statement of defense being filed. Evidence may be submitted that would inadmissible in stricter jurisdictions.
Small Claims Court decisions are rarely appealed.
The procedural specifics of filing a small claims suit:
Filing a statement of claim:
According to the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s residence / business / place of liability occurrence, a small claims suit can be filed in the relevant jurisdiction. The lawsuit is filed in several copies. At the time of filing the claim, a confirmation of payment of court fees, personal details of the defendant, facts regarding the existence of a cause of action and any relevant document that supports the claimants version of events must be attached.
Submission of a statement of defense:
After a small claims court claim is filed, the court’s secretariat makes sure to deliver a copy of the statement of claim to each defendant in the case, together with a summons for a court hearing. After receiving a copy of the claim, the defendant may submit a statement of defense within 15 days, including any requests to add a third party to the claim or any counterclaims.
Discussion of the case and decision:
Trials at the small claims court are short and to the point. On the day of the hearing, both parties are required to appear before the court. That is one of the primary goals of the special procedure governing the hearings of small claims cases. If one of the litigants does not appear for a hearing, the Small Claims Court can discuss the case in absentia. At the hearing, the parties may bring witnesses in their favor, and may even reach a compromise agreement that will receive the approval of the court before the hearing begins.
After all the relevant facts have been brought before the court and the parties have provided their version of events, possibly supported by witnesses and documents, the court will deliver a judgment. The judge will decide whether the plaintiff is entitled to receive compensation, and in what amount. The judge may suspend the granting of a verdict by a week, giving the parties time to reach a compromise.
After the judgment is handed down, the judgment my be executed at the Execution Office.
Appeal against a Small claims ruling to the District Court
An appeal can be submitted to the District Court against the judgment of the Small Claims Court. The appeal requires the approval of the District Court judge within 15 days from the date of the judgment. Submission of an appeal is subject to a fee.
Can a lawyer help you file a small claim?
As stated above, the litigants in a small claims suit are not represented by lawyers at the Courthouse. However, prior to the submission of the statement of claim or defense, it is recommended and even advisable to consult with an attorney who will examine the legal issues in the case in question, assist in drafting the required statements of arguments, and advise on how to resolve the legal dispute in the best possible manner without being forced to resort to a hearing.
It is possible that the cause of action is not suitable for the small claims court, but should be submitted to a ordinary legal jurisdiction. Therefore, it is important to obtain legal advice before deciding on the right path for submitting the claim. A knowledgeable lawyer can shed light on the procedure and help you save precious time, while providing the most comprehensive legal information on the required issue.
Contact a lawyer for assistance in filing a small claims suit
The law firm in Petah Tikva and Jerusalem, Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, specializes in civil law. If you wish to receive legal information regarding the submission of a small claim, or seek legal aid in managing debts or foreclosure process, we will be happy to serve you.