Effective immediately, the jurisdictional limit of D.C.’s Small Claims Court has increased from $5,000 to $10,000. By contrast, Virginia’s small claims (General District Court) limit is $25,000, and Maryland’s small claims (District Court) limit is $30,000. The D.C. small claims increase took effect pursuant to the District of Columbia Judicial Financial Transparency Act of 2016.
Make no mistake: the D.C. Small Claims increase is a big win for creditors. The increase will result in many more cases for debts between $5,000 and $10,000.
D.C. Small Claims Court
The D.C. Small Claims and Conciliation Branch is a branch of the D.C. Superior Court and is located in the same building as the Landlord Tenant Court Building B, 510 4th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. The clerk is located in Room 120, and the courtroom is located in Room 119.
The Small Claims court does not offer jury trials; only the Superior Civil Actions Branch offers jury trials. Small claims is located to the left when you enter the courthouse, while landlord tenant claims are heard to the right.
D.C. Small Claims Increase is a Win for Creditors
We will have to see how effectively the D.C. Small Claims Branch will handle the caseload increase. But many debts, between $5,000 and $10,000, will now be filed in small claims, whereas they were not once worth filing in the civil division. The change represents a decided win for creditors, and they will now more frequently pursue claims up to $10,000.
Defendants in small claims do not have access to jury trial, and there is no discovery in small claims. Creditors’ case filing fees have dropped now, too, from $120 down to $45.
As a result, creditors with claims of $5,000 to $10,000 now have much shorter case timelines, making these cases more profitable. Predictably, creditors attorneys will now file many more cases for debts up to $10,000.
Any way you look at it, the D.C. Small Claims increase is a big win for creditors.