Small Claims Cases


Currently, we are accepting new cases in person. Appointments are preferred.

  • For questions about submitting a new case or to make an appointment call 215-686-7988
  • For questions about relisting a case or submitting a petition call 215-686-7980
  • For questions about submitting a writ of execution call 215-686-7989

What is a Small Claims Case?

Small Claims Court is a simpler, faster, and cheaper way to go to court and get your problem figured out. Small Claims are cases that involve disagreements about money one person owes another. Here at the Philadelphia Municipal Court, we deal with Small Claims cases involving up to $12,000. Some examples of Small Claims Cases are:

  • Contract disputes
  • Personal injury claims (like a dog bite)
  • Collection on debts or loan repayments
  • Professional negligence claims (like a bad car repair)
  • Claims about returning a renter's security deposit

The court does NOT deal with cases against Commonwealth parties like SEPTA (The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). If you win a Small Claims Case, you can get money. The court can NOT make someone do something, like give back property or make repairs.

We have resources to help you with your small claims case no matter what side you're on.

Types of Small Claims Cases

The civil court mostly deals with two types of cases: Contract Actions and Negligence Actions.

 Contract Actions

A contract is an agreement between two or more people or organizations. It can be a written or spoken agreement. Common examples of contracts include:

  • Agreements between lenders and borrowers about money, including loans and debt (a debt collector might be involved in the case instead of the lender)
  • Agreements between credit card companies and credit cardholders to provide credit
  • Agreements between homeowners and contractors to make repairs
  • Agreements between insurance companies and their clients to provide insurance
  • Agreements between sellers and buyers to provide goods or services

In each of these examples, one side agrees to pay money in return for something that the other side gives them. The agreement breaks when one side does not do what they promised.

 Negligence Actions

Negligence actions involve someone being careless and causing harm to another person. Negligence is based on the idea that everyone has a responsibility to protect others. When people get hurt because someone else was careless, they can submit a case to ask the other side for money.

One example of a negligence action is when someone drives through a red light and hits another car. If people in the other car get hurt, they can submit a negligence action case with the court. This case would be for personal injuries and property damages. They would ask the driver to pay for their medical and mechanic bills.

How can we help you today?


Starting a Small Claims Case


Responding to a Small Claims Case


Going to a Small Claims Hearing


Dealing with Debt


What is a Statement of Claim and why did I get one?

You got a Statement of Claim because someone is suing you. They sued you because they think you owe them money. The Statement of Claim says why the person thinks you owe them money. Read the Statement of Claim carefully so you understand what the other side is saying. You got a Statement of Claim because someone is suing you. They sued you because they think you owe them money. The Statement of Claim says why the person thinks you owe them money. Read the Statement of Claim carefully so you understand what the other side is saying.

What is the date, time, and location of my hearing?

On the left side of the Statement of Claim under the heading “Summons to the Defendant,” you will find the date, time and location of the hearing. All hearings are in a courtroom on the 6th floor of the Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. It is important that you show up on time. If you are late, you might automatically lose the case.

What should I do if I can not go to my hearing?

If you want to reschedule your hearing date, you need to ask the court in writing at least 10 days before the hearing. This is called making a request for a continuance.

  • Write a letter to the court explaining that you’d like to request a continuance.
    • The letter must include the reason why you need to reschedule
    • Include your case number if possible
    • Include your phone number
  • Send the letter to the court:
    • John J. Joyce, Deputy Court Administrator
    • 1339 Chestnut Street Room 1020, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
    • You can also email the letter to
  • Send a copy to the other side in the case

If you do not ask to reschedule the hearing at least 10 days in advance, you must go to the hearing in person. At the hearing, you can ask to reschedule it. You must tell the other parties in advance that you plan to request a continuance at the hearing.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. The Municipal Court is designed so that you can go through the legal process without a lawyer. If you decide that you want a lawyer, you can contact the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service at 215-238-6333. You might qualify for a free lawyer or free legal advice.

Do I need to submit any forms before coming to my hearing?

If you want to challenge the lawsuit because you don’t think you should have to pay the other side, complete the Notice to Defend.

  • Make a copy if you can
  • Mail the Notice to Defend to the person or company that is suing you at least 5 days before hearing
  • Use the addressed envelope that came with the Notice to Defend
  • Bring a copy of the Notice to Defend to the hearing
  • If the Notice to Defend did not come with an envelope, you do not have to fill it out. You can still challenge the lawsuit.

By filing this notice, you are telling the court three things:

  • You plan to challenge the case (you don’t believe you should have to pay the other side)
  • You want a judge to decide your case (you want a hearing)
  • You want the company or person suing you to be ready to prove their case on your first trip to court so that you do not have to go to court more than once.

If you think that the Municipal Court is not where you should be sued, please call Court Administration at 215-686-2910 as soon as possible. This might happen if you are not a resident of Philadelphia or if your case is for more than the $12,000 limit of Municipal Court. Staff will explain how to submit a letter to notify the court.

If you believe that you have a claim against the person who sued you or you believe that another person should be a party to the action, please call the Fist Filing Unit at 215-686-7988 as soon as possible and a member of the court’s staff will explain to you how to submit a counterclaim, cross-claim, or additional claim. The court does not require or accept what you may have heard described as an Answer, New Matter, or Preliminary Objections.

What should I bring to the hearing?

You should bring all documents and witnesses that support your case. Documents can include letters, canceled checks, bills of sale, contracts, agreements, canceled checks, photographs, account books, and paid bill receipts. Documents should be printed and not on a cell phone. Make sure you bring copies of all documents for the other side.

What happens if I do not show up at the hearing?

If you do not show up for your hearing you risk losing your case. This is called a Default Judgment. Learn more about how to reschedule your hearing.

What do I need to bring to court if I am representing an organization that is being sued?

If you represent an organization, you must be an executive officer (President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer). Bring proof that you are allowed to speak for the organization. Proof could be things like articles of incorporation showing that you are an officer of the corporation. You may also complete and bring an Authorized Representative Form.

What if I have a question that is not listed above?

Call the court at 215-686-2910 or come to the court at 1339 Chestnut Street, 10th floor, Room 1000



Call 215-686-7000 for general court information.


Business Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

Small Claims Information