Demand for Payment Letter
If You Need to Pursue the Matter in Court

In our sample demand for payment letters we outline the consequences
should the debtor fail to pay, which is to commence legal proceedings to recover the debt.

The most cost effective way would be to institute a claim through the small claims court. The fees are much lower (and you may well be able to claim it back from the defendant should you win your case) than if you were to engage the services of a lawyer and submit your case in a higher court.

What is Small Claims Court?

gavel, scales and hourglass

Simply put, it is a much less formal setting where a claimant can present his/her case without having to hire an attorney. The case will mostly be heard by a judge only and the decision may not be appealed, although there are exceptions to this in some jurisdictions.

In many jurisdictions you can do your submission online but it may also be a prerequisite to have written a letter of demand to the debtor first and go through a mediation process before taking the case to court.

Review the legal guidelines for your demand for payment letter and our sample demand letters to assist you in compiling your documents.

To pursue your claim in a Small Claim Court or Disputes Tribunal, you need to confirm your claim is within the maximum limit. Below are a brief overview with links to the courts in various jurisdictions.

If your claim is over the stated limits but you are prepared to accept no more than the limit, then you can still proceed in the small claims court. However, you cannot at a later time then sue the debtor for the balance or divide the claims into multiple cases.

Generally your claim will be for money. So you cannot ask the court to make the defendant perform an act e.g. retile your bathroom, or not do an act e.g. stop parking in your driveway. In some courts you may file a warrant in detinue i.e. to obtain possession of your property which is being wrongfully held by the defendant.

Persons not directly involved with a claim may not act during the trial, unless it is the parent or guardian representing a person under the age of 18. You also need to check whether you are allowed to hire an attorney in your jurisdiction. Incidentally, if either the claimant or the defendant is in fact an attorney, the other party may be allowed to have legal representation even where not allowed - check with your court!

You can call upon witnesses to testify and ask the court to subpoena an unwilling witness.

Be sure the defendant can actually afford to pay your claim. It will be a waste of time to win judgment against a debtor who is unemployed or who has no property.

Navigate to your country specific Small Claims Court by scrolling down this page or clicking on the jump links below:

USA - United Kingdom - Canada

Australia - South Africa - New Zealand

United States of America

The limits are state specific, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 but there may be no limit in eviction cases in some states.

Some states do allow a jury trial but that generally takes more time than a trial by judge alone.

Court officials can advise on the process and assist with completion of the necessary forms but may not give any legal advice. You may consult with an attorney prior to your case going to trial.

Up to $6,000 You may appeal if you think the judge's ruling is wrong, which will refer the case to the Circuit Court.

Up to $10,000 You may have a lawyer if you wish but a jury trial is not allowed.

Up to $3,500

Up to $5,000 A judge will rule on the case, but the decision may be appealed.

Up to $10,000 You may not have a lawyer present. Use the interactive form on their site to help you write your demand letter asking for money.

Up to $7,500 Jury trials are not allowed. The defendant may choose to hire an attorney and must give 7 days Notice to the Court thereof. The claimant then automatically has right to hire an attorney.

Up to $5,000 (But it can be double the amount of a tenant's security deposit not returned by a landlord plus interest) You do not need an attorney and may not appeal the decision.

Up to $15,000

District of Columbia
Up to $10,000 You can request a jury trial. You do not need a lawyer but a business filing a claim must have a lawyer.

Up to $5,000

Up to $15,000 You may hire an attorney at your expense and mediation may be a pre-requisite in some counties before a judge will hear your case.

Up to $5,000 Your case will be heard by a judge. You may be represented by an attorney unless your case is about a security deposit in a residential rental agreement.

Up to $5,000 You need Microsoft Word in order to download any forms.

Up to $10,000 You can hire an attorney and the case will be decided by a judge.

Up to $6,000 The videos give an excellent overview of what to expect in court. You may hire an attorney.

Up to $5,000 You must use electronic filing (unless the court granted you an exception) and your case will be tried before a judge.

Up to $4,000 In most instances you may not be represented by a lawyer and may not have a jury.

Up to $2,500 You may be represented by an attorney but not any other person not party to your claim.

Up to $5,000

Up to $6,000

Up to $5,000 You may hire a lawyer should you choose to do so.

Up to $7,000 You can claim more for property damage sustained in an automobile accident.

Up to $5,500 You will act on your own behalf and there is no jury.

Up to $15,000 Called Conciliation Court and you may not have a lawyer represent you.

Up to $3,500 The Justice Courts have jurisdiction over small claims.

Up to $5,000 You may represent yourself and there is no jury.

Up to $7,000 No jury and either all parties are presented by attorneys or none are.

Up to $3,600

Up to $10,000 Attorneys are allowed but you cannot recover their fees from a losing party.

New Hampshire
Up to $10,000 Claims over $5,000 must go through mediation first and filing is done electronically.

New Jersey
Up to $3,000 Up to $5,000 for security deposit claims.

New Mexico
Up to $10,000

New York
Up to $5,000

North Carolina
Up to $10,000 (may be less in some counties)

USA Silver Dollar

North Dakota
Up to $15,000

Up to $3,000

Up to $7,500 You can ask for a jury trial if the claim/counterclaim exceeds $1,500

Up to $10,000 Parties must represent themselves. The defendant may demand a jury trial if the claim exceeds $750

Up to $12,000

Rhode Island
Up to $2,500

South Carolina
Up to $7,500 You may send a request in advance if you wish to have a jury trial.

South Dakota
Up to $12,000 You may be represented by an attorney.

Up to $25,000 The case is handled in General Sessions Court and you may have a lawyer represent you.

Up to $10,000 You may request a jury (6 persons) in advance.

Up to $11,000 Claims are referred to mediation first and if unsuccessful a trial date will be scheduled.

Up to $5,000 You may be represented by an attorney.

Up to $5,000 Parties represent themselves.

Up to $5,000 You may not be represented by an attorney unless a judge grants permission thereto.

West Virginia
Up to $5,000

Up to $10,000 with no limit for eviction suits.

Up to $6,000

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United Kingdom

UK coin

England and Wales

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has their Money Claim Online for both claimants and defendants (limited to GBP 10,000). You will also find very clear guidelines on how to issue a claim or respond to a claim and how to follow on should the defendant pay or not respond.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

In Scotland the limit is up to GBP 3000,00 and in Northern Ireland the limit is also GBP 3000,00 and you can use their online services after registering.

* * *


The courts are designed for citizens to handle their own cases without need for an attorney. The forms are easy to use and the sites (links provided below) provide clear instructions to assist you with your case.

The Provincial Court - Civil can hear claims up to $50,000

British Columbia
Up to $25,000

Up to $15,000

New Brunswick
Up to $20,000

Newfoundland and Labrador
Up to $25,000

Northwest Territories
Up to $35,000

Nova Scotia
Up to $25,000

Up to $20,000

Up to $25,000

Prince Edward Island
Up to $8,000

Up to $15,000

Up to $30,000

Up to $25,000

Canadian Dollar

* * *


Australian Capital Territory
Generally a limit of $25,000

New South Wales
Up to $10,000

Northern Territory
Up to $25,000

Up to $7,500

South Australia
Up to $25,000

Up to $5,000

No small claims division. Up to $100,000 in the Magistrate's Court

Western Australia
Up to $10,000

Australia 100 Dollars

* * *

South Africa

South African Krugerrand

The limit in South Africa is R15,000 and you need to appear in court in person and cannot have a legal professional to act on your behalf.

Documents and forms are available from the government site

* * *

New Zealand Disputes Tribunal

New Zealand Dollar

The limit in New Zealand is $15,000 (or $20,000 if all the parties agree).

You can seek legal advice prior to your case but need to make your case yourself in the hearing.

* * *

The process itself of taking to someone to small claims court is relatively easy (carefully read through each jurisdiction's online information) but that does not mean it is a quick process. It does take time! Accept that and wait for the wheels of justice to do its turning - you have nothing to lose if your case has merit.

If your claim is above the limit of the small claims court, consider claiming a lesser amount, in order to make use of the small claims system.

One more note: Quite often Government sites get updated and pages are moved without leaving redirecting links in place. If you find any of the links on this page not working, please drop us a quick note - it would be a great help. You can use the Facebook comment function at the bottom of this page or use the Contact link above right. Thanking you in advance!

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