Cases in Conciliation, or "small claims" Court are serious matters. There is a great deal at stake for you. If you lose, a judgment will be issued against you, and you may have to pay up to $7,500 plus Court costs and fees. Judgments against you will also have a negative effect on your credit rating. If you win, your opponent's case will be dismissed and you will owe nothing. In addition, we can also assist you in filing and presenting a Counterclaim, if you believe the opposing party owes you money. If you prevail on both your defense and your counterclaim you will owe the Plaintiff nothing; the Plaintiff instead must pay you. With our help, you could transform what began as negative incident to your financial advantage.

In some circumstances, it is the Plaintiff's obligation to serve you with the complaint, claim form, or other case-initiating document. In other circumstances, court staff are supposed to mail you this preliminary form. In either event, many Defendants do not actually receive proper notice from the court or their adversary before the hearing, but instead learn of the case through advertising, the court's web site, or other informal methods. Sometimes Defendants do not receive formal notice due to inadvertence or error, in other cases, we have suspected that a claim form was not delivered deliberately.

We have observed that if a Defendant does not appear in conciliation court on the day of the hearing, and the Plaintiff claims the Defendant was served with a claim form, the court will grant a default judgment against the Defendant. In the Defendant's absence, the judge has no way to evaluate whether the Plaintiff's claim that the Defendant was served is true or false.

A default judgment might be overturned in certain circumstances, but requires a good deal of work and a bit of luck to do so. Choosing not to go to court on the day of your hearing exposes yourself to considerable risk, and you should consult with an attorney about how to best protect yourself.

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