Scheduling of Small Claims and Civil cases
Scheduling of Small Claims and Civil cases
During the COVID state of emergency the circuit courts continued to handle cases prioritized by state and federal law (e.g., child protection, guardianships, incarcerated criminal cases, etc.). At the same time, there was a slow down or pause on other case types. Small claims and civil cases were significantly impacted by pandemic scheduling realities and the limitations on in-person hearings.
Now that the Supreme Court has authorized court users to have full access to court buildings again, all cases are being reviewed and addressed in order of filing – oldest first. Despite a shortage of judges for the circuit court, we expect that some courts will begin scheduling previously cancelled hearings and new small claims and civil cases, as well as payment hearings, in the next several weeks. Others will begin sometime in the weeks and months after that, depending on the severity of backlogs in all case types.
Please check back frequently with the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234 for the scheduling statuses for specific courts and their abilities to get these types of cases scheduled onto the dockets.
Electronic Filing is mandatory in small claims cases at all district division locations. Self-represented litigants will use the program TurboCourt. Attorneys will use the program File & Serve. If you had filed your original civil action in paper (not electronically) and have received a judgment that you are trying to collect, you may continue to file your pleadings in paper. Please be aware of the Circuit Court’s Electronic Filing Rules.
The small claims process is governed by RSA Chapter 503. In addition, a person who is filing or defending against a small claim will want to be familiar with the Rules of the Circuit Court District Division and the Small Claim Electronic Filing Pilot Rules. While there is a section within the District Division Rules that specifically deals with small claims, there are others which will be relevant to the small claims process.
Effective July 1, 2015, a person or entity may sue any person or business whom it is alleged owes $10,000.00 or less or who has caused damage of $10,000.00 or less. Any claim in excess of $5,000 is subject to mandatory mediation. Please feel free to visit the mediation section of the Judicial Branch website. If the claim is over $1500, the Defendant may request a jury trial. If such a request is filed, the parties will be notified when the case is transferred to the county Superior Court for trial by jury. If the claim would require the court to decide ownership of real estate, it must be filed in the Superior Court and may not be filed as a small claim.
Try to settle your claim
The parties should try to settle the claim. The Plaintiff may simply ask the person who owes the money to pay. Often a compromise is better in the long run.
The claim shall be filed in the district division where either the Plaintiff or the Defendant resides. If the Defendant is not a resident of New Hampshire, the claim may be filed in the court of any town or district where the Defendant, in person or through an agent, transacts business; makes a contract with a resident of the town or district; commits a tortious act; or owns, uses or possesses any real property. To find which court covers your particular town, please click on the "Find Your Court" link to the right. If one of the parties in the case is an estate, trust, guardianship or conservatorship, the case may be filed in the Probate Division in the county where the estate, trust, guardianship or conservatorship is located.
Electronic Filing is mandatory in Small Claim at all court locations. Self-represented litigants will use the program TurboCourt. Attorneys will use the program File & Serve. If you had filed your original small claim in paper (not electronically) and have received a judgment that you are trying to collect, you may continue to file your pleadings in paper. You may also request that your case be “converted” to electronic filing so that future pleadings may be filed electronically.
After reviewing the information on these pages, if you need further assistance please contact the District Division at 1-855-212-1234 for calls from US or Canada (Calls from outside US or Canada call 603-415-0162)