1. Who may institute a claim?
- Anyone except registered entities such as companies, corporation or associations.
- A person under the age of 21 must be assisted by his/her parents or legal guardians.
2. Against whom may a claim be instituted?
- Against anyone, including companies, corporations or municipalities or other entities.
3. What matters are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court?
- Claims that exceed the limit of K 20,000.
- Claims for damages in respect of defamation, malicious, prosecution, wrongful imprisonment, wrongful arrest, adultery and seduction.
- Claims concerning the validity of a will
- Claims concerning the status of a person in respect of his medical capacity.
- Claims made under customer law.
- Claims in which specific performance is sought without an alternative claim for payment of damages.
- Claims against foreign states and consular officers.
4. Are you compelled to institute your case in the small claims court?
- No, you may choose whether you want to institute the claim in the small claims court or any other competent court or any other court such as the Subordinate court.
5. Legal representation and assistance in the preparation of your claim.
- Representation by an Advocate is not allowed. You may however, at your own cost obtain prior advice from an Advocate.
- The clerk of court will assist you free of charge to prepare your claims.
- Any Zambian language may be used in the court. Arrangements with an interpreter must be made with the court clerk before hand if evidence is to be given in any language other than English.
7. How do I commerce an action in a small claims court?
- An action in the small claims court will be instituted by issuing a letter of demand first. The letter of demand will be addressed to the defendant setting out your claim. This letter of demand will be served you upon the defendant and an expiry date of fourteen (14) days if he/she does not respond favorably; you will then be entitled to issue a notice of claim.The clerk of court will assist you to prepare both the letter of demand and notice of claim and then advise you how best to effect service.
What to take to the clerk of court:
- Contract, letter, document or other proof upon which your claim is based or that has regard thereto.
- The defendant’s full name and address (home and business address, if available.)What re the duties of the clerk of court?
- He / She will inform you of the date and time for the hearing of the case.
- He /she will issue the notice of claim and hand it to you for service.What do you do with the notice of claim?
- You should serve the notice of claim on the defendant in person. Try to get an acknowledgement of receipt by having the defendant sign and date a copy of the notice of claim.
You can request the clerk of court to instruct the sheriff to effect the service on your behalf at a fee. What do you do then?
- Where the sheriff has undertaken the service, you must check with the court if the sheriff has filed a certificate of service with the court. After that, obtain a hearing date from the court. Keep the contract, letter, document or other proof upon which your claim is based at hand. Inform your witness of the date and time the case will be heard and arrange for them to be present in court at the appointed date and time.What do you do when you receive a notice of a claim?
- You should immediately see the clerk of court for assistance in responding to it.
- The clerk of court will assist you to complete the notice of defence or admission of claim.
- If you have a counterclaim, he/she will assist you in completing the notice in respect of your counterclaim.
- He/she will examine the documents you are intends relying upon for your defense or counterclaim and advise you on which ones to come with to court.
- He / she will advise you of the hearing date.
8. Possible to steps by the defendant after receipt of the notice of claim.
- He/she may comply with the plaintiff’s claim by offering to the settle the claim.
- He/she may deliver a written statement, containing the nature of his defense, and/or his/her counterclaim and particulars of the grounds on which it is based, to the clerk of court and send a copy thereof the plaintiffs
9. What do you do if the defendant has satisfied your claim in the meantime?
- Supply him with a written receipt
- Inform the clerk of court immediately that your claim has been satisfied and you no longer wish to proceed with the case.
10. What do you do on the appointed date and time of hearing?
- You must appear at court in person at the appointed.
- Ensure that you have with you all the documents upon which your claim is based.
- Ensure that all your witnesses are present
- Ensure that you have written proof that the notice of claim was served on the opposing party.
11. Who will preside over the court?
- The small claims court will be presided over by commissioners. These persons are qualified lawyers and have practiced law for a period of not less than five years.
12. The hearing
- The court proceedings are informal and simple
- No Advocate may appear on your behalf. You will present you case in court
- The commissioner of court will request you state your case.
- State facts as concisely as possible.
- Answer the questions of the commissioner and submit your supporting documents.
- No cross examination between the parties is allowed. With the commissioner’s permission you may however, put a few questions to the defendant and vice-versa.
- Listen attentively to the defendant’s explanation and once he has finished talking, bring the attention of the commissioner to any facts which in your opinion he has not presented correctly. After the commissioner has heard you, the defendant and any witness that may be present, he/she will pass judgment.
- No appeal may be filed against a judgment or order of the court.
- The judgment may be referred to a panel of three (3) commissioners for a review if good cause is shown.
14. Steps following judgment
In case judgment is given against you
The judgment of the court is final, unless some ground for review exists. Settle any order for costs that the court might make against you. The only possible costs can be those that the opposing part may have incurred in respect of fees for the sheriff and filing documents.
In case Judgment is given in your favour
The defendant will pay you the amount of the judgment within the period of payment stipulated in judgment if he has the money available. Give him/her a receipt for the amount immediately. In case the defendant cannot comply with the judgment forthwith the court ability will investigate his/her financial position and his/her to settle the judgment debt and costs and make an order that he pays by monthly installments.
If the judgment debtor fails to comply with the judgment or order of the court. If the judgment debtor fails to comply with the judgment or order of the court and you want to enforce the judgment or order concerned, you will be at liberty to file a writ of execution instructing the sheriff to seize his property.