The Small Claims Division also maintains a supplementary web presence to assist with understanding the Small Claims Court and its services.
The Small Claims Division was established by the Ohio General Assembly in 1967 with the enactment of Chapter 1925 of the Ohio Revised Code. This division of the court was created to provide a more informal, expeditious, and inexpensive means for individuals to pursue claims for relatively smaller sums of money. The jurisdiction limit is currently $6,000, exclusive of interest and costs.
Although representation by an attorney at law is permitted, it is not required, and most parties do in fact represent themselves. A judgment rendered in this division of the court has the same force and effect as any other judgment of the court.
Individuals, corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations, and political subdivisions may sue and be sued in the Small Claims Division. Any party may be represented by an attorney at law. An individual may file or defend an action and, in so doing, represent himself or herself. An individual under the age of eighteen may file or defend through a guardian ad litem, usually a parent or legal guardian. A partnership may file and be represented by a general partner.
A corporation, unincorporated association, or political subdivision may file and be represented by an officer or salaried employee or by an attorney at law. However, in the absence of representation by an attorney at law, these parties may not ask questions of any witness, file motions, or engage in other acts of advocacy.
Trials in the Small Claims Division are conducted by a magistrate pursuant to Local Rule 7.01. The proceedings in the Small Claims Division are relatively informal so that parties who are not represented by counsel can be fairly heard. Substantive rules of evidence do apply to small claims hearings. However, the court may consider as evidence estimates, bills, or other statements which purport to show loss in issues relevant to proof of damages.