Small Claims hearings will be heard in Redwood City. Additionally, the Small Claims Advisor will be available each Wednesday afternoon at the Hall of Justice from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


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SC-100: Plaintiff’s Claim & Order to Go to Small Claims Court

SC-103: Fictitious Business Name Declaration


Small Claims hearings will be heard either at the Hall of Justice or at the Traffic/Small Claims Annex. Both court locations are located at the County Center Complex in Redwood City.

A small claims court is a special type of court where cases are taken to a verdict extremely quickly and rather inexpensively. Court rulings there are rather lenient, and the hearing itself is quite informal. Attorneys in these courts are not allowed, and in most cases, you do not even need to be a citizen of the United States to file or defend yourself in small claims court. Non-English speakers are allowed access to an interpreter so they can defend themselves adequately.

What Is The Filing Fee in Small Claims Court?

A filing fee is mandatory before your case is put into motion and is set in relative amount to the claim you are presenting. If you have filed more than twelve case months in one, each case has a $100 fee irrespective of the claim.

These filings are applicable in the county of San Mateo and include all areas under its jurisdiction like Half Moon Bay, Redwood City, Foster City, and more:

  • $5,000 to $10,000 – $75 
  • $1,500 to $5,000 – $50
  • $0 to $1,5000 – $30

If your claim exceeds the amounts mentioned above, then you are not legible for filing a case in small claims court in San Mateo county.

What Types Of Cases Can Be Filed in Small Claims Court?

As a general rule of thumb, if a case does not seem to fit anywhere else, then you can file the lawsuit in small claims court. Here are the most common small claims court cases:

  • Unfulfillment of an oral or written contract
  • Lack of loan payment
  • Car accidents/auto accidents
  • Landlord / Tenant disputes over early lease termination or security deposits.
  • Issues amongst tenants/room mates
  • Professional negligence (bad home/auto repairs, etc.)
  • Minor personal injury claim.

Moreover, it is also important to note what kinds of cases are not heard in small claims court:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Name Changes
  • Family Law Issues (Divorce, Domestic Abuse, Child Support, Paternity)
  • Serious Personal Injury Cases

For these particular cases, you can consult with an attorney in the local San Mateo area to file them appropriately.

Can I Hire an Attorney For Small Claims Court?

Most states do not allow an attorney to represent you in Small Claims Court as their entire premise is informality and inexpensiveness. However, you can still seek counsel from an attorney outside of the court if you file the case and represent yourself.

Seeking professional advice from an Attorney is recommended. They can provide you with useful pointers and unsolicited legal opinions on how to carry your claim forward in a small claims court hearing.

How Long Does It Take For A San Mateo County Small Claims Court To Process?

Generally, small claims court cases last for about twenty to seventy days, depending on the case. Here’s how a case generally goes:

  • The plaintiff pays the filing fees and files the case
  • The defendant is served with an official notice, and both try to reach a settlement (mediation)
  • If not settlement is reached, both parties then speak to the judge directly in the courtroom
  • Both sides then present their sides and make arguments
  • The judge then issues a verdict reasonably quickly

Most small claims cases do not end up going to the courtroom but rather conclude in settlements. However, if that is not the case, a professional attorney can help you formulate your case to represent yourself better.


Small Claims Courts are an efficient and inexpensive way to seek justice for yourself over relatively smaller matters. Whether attorneys are allowed inside or not, having counsel can help you better understand your case and make a much more informed decision in a small claims court case.