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Civil and Small Claims

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Kern County Superior Court believes ADR can be helpful for every case. The Court encourages parties to use ADR to resolve their disputes

Overview, types of ADR, when to use ADR, ADR resources, and more on the Kern County Superior Court ADR page.

ADR Information

Small Claims

The purpose of the small claims court is to resolve minor civil disputes quickly, inexpensively, and fairly. The rules are simple and the hearing is informal. You may ask a lawyer for advice before or after the hearing but you may not have a lawyer at the hearing. The person who sues is the plaintiff. The person who is being sued is the defendant.

In the state of California, an individual may sue for an amount up to $10,000. Businesses and other organizations may sue for an amount up to $5,000. A limited number of claims may be filed per calendar year under the amount of $2,500 each. Only two claims of more than $2,500 may be filed per calendar year.

Code of Civil Procedure Chapter Five sections 116.110–116.910 contains the law pertaining to Small Claims Court.

Special Accommodations
If you have a disability and need assistance, please ask the court to help accommodate your needs. If you have a hearing impairment and need assistance, please notify the court.

The Small Claims Advisor is employed by the court and can explain the basic steps involved in small claims actions. Services are offered at no cost on a first-come, first-serve basis. You may call the Small Claims Advisor at (661) 868-2532.

The court provides a community mediation program that is designed to resolve disputes before or after court documents have been filed. Trained mediators will work with both parties to try to reach a satisfactory settlement. It is a good idea to try mediation before filing documents as it may result in a faster settlement at no cost. Bilingual English/Spanish mediators are available. For more information, contact:

BBB Mediation Center of Kern County
1601 H Street Ste. 101
Bakersfield, California
(661) 616-5252 or (800) 675-8118 ext. 300

This is the proper court to file a lawsuit, if one of the following statements is true:
  1. A defendant lives in Kern County, or, if the defendant is a business, its principal place of business is Kern County.
  2. Plaintiff was injured or personal property was damaged in Kern County.
  3. A defendant signed or entered into a contract in Kern County, a defendant lived in Kern County when the contract was entered into, a contract or obligation was to be performed in Kern County, or, if the defendant is a corporation, the contract was breached in Kern County. Click here for information on corporations

Small Claims Filing Options

  1. File at Home. E-filing of Plaintiff’s Claim and Order form SC-100 only. File at Home - Small Claims
  2. E-Filing of other Small Claims documents. Upload and filing, in pdf format, of other forms such as Application for Guardian Ad Litem, Declarations, Miscellaneous (such as Defendant’s Claim and Order form SC-120)may be done through Electronic Filing Service Providers (EFSP). Click here to E-File.
  3. In person at the Courthouse where your claim is to be heard.
  4. By mail to the appropriate Courthouse. Provide the original Plaintiff’s Claim and Order plus one (1) copy for each Defendant and you. Provide a self -addressed stamped envelope so the Clerk can mail copies back to you.

Requirements

You must request Night Court from the Small Claims Court Clerk when you file your case.

Small Claims Night Court Location:

3131 Arrow St
Bakersfield, CA 93308

Time: 5:15 PM

Duration: Approximately 1 to 1½ hours depending on the number of cases.

What to Bring: Any witnesses or exhibits (evidence)

Payments: No payments made that night

Agencies

  1. Better Business Bureau Mediation Center of Kern County
    1601 H Street, Suite 101
    Bakersfield, CA 93301-5133
    Inquiries & Complaints: (661) 322-2074
     
  2. CA Dept. of Consumer Affairs - Bureau of Automotive Repair
    4801 District Boulevard
    Bakersfield, CA 93313
    (661) 833-6304
     
  3. California Department of Industrial Relations
    Labor Standards Enforcement, Bureau of Field Enforcement
    Wage Claims and Adjudication
    5555 California Avenue
    Bakersfield, CA
    (661) 395-2710
     
  4. California Contractor's State License Board
    Licensing-Consumer Information
    1601 New Stine Road, Suite 182
    Bakersfield, 93309
    (661) 834-5441
    Headquarters: Information Technicians (916) 255-3900 or 800-321-CSLB
     
  5. California Court Self-Help Center
  6. Kern County Fictitious Business Names

Law Library

Kern County Law Library
Superior Court, 1415 Truxtun Avenue, 3rd Floor - Room 301
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661) 868-5320

Ask the librarian to direct you to the Small Claims Court law resources, such as the "Consumer Law Sourcebook for Small Claims Court Judicial Officers," a three-volume set published by the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs in 1996. These books as well as other Small Claims Court source materials are kept at the librarian's desk.

Legal Services

  1. Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.
    615 California Avenue
    Bakersfield, CA 93304
    (661) 325-5943
  2. Kern County Bar Association
    1675 Chester Avenue, Suite 220
    Bakersfield, CA 93301
    (661) 334-4700
  3. Small Claims Advisor
    1415 Truxtun Avenue, 3rd Floor
    Bakersfield, CA 93301
    661-868-2532
  4. State Bar of California
    San Francisco (Main Office)
    180 Howard Street
    San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
    (415) 538-2000

    Los Angeles
    1149 South Hill Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90015-2299
    (213) 765-1000

    Complaints about attorneys: (800) 843-9053
    Consumer pamphlets: (415) 561-8280

Sheriff

Sheriff's Department, Civil Division
5251 Office Park Dr, Bldg 300
Bakersfield CA 93309
(661) 6335-1300

Additional Information

  1. COVID-19 Rental Debt in Small Claims Court ( SC-500-INFO )
  2. Small Claims Guide - Department of Consumer Affairs
  3. California Courts Judicial Branch Small Claims

Court Filing Fees

If you cannot afford the fees, obtain a Fee Waiver packet from the small claims court clerk or at Judicial Council Self-Help.

  1. Information Sheet on Waiver Of Court Fees and Costs (FW-INFO)
  2. Request to Waive Court Fee (FW-001)
  3. Order on Court Fee Waiver (FW-003)

Forms

  1. In Person
    All Civil Units are open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and 8:00 AM to noon on Fridays. You may pick up a small claims forms packet by coming to the court. If you are filing a new Small Claims case, please arrive at the court no less than 30 minutes before closing.
  2. List of Forms and Instructions
    Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court
    For all other Small Claims forms and information, visit this page.
    When returning your completed forms, you must provide along with the original, one copy for each plaintiff and defendant and a self-addressed stamped envelope or place a note on your documents that you will pick them up in will-call. YOU WILL NOT BE CALLED TO PICK UP YOUR PAPERWORK.

Civil and Small Claims FAQs

Look for your name on the docket monitor located in the lobby. Names appear in alphabetical order. Due to confidential matters, not all cases are visible on the monitor(s) so proceed to the Clerk’s window if you have difficulty locating your case.

No. There is a Self Help Center and a Law Library located at 1215 Truxtun Avenue, 1st Floor. There is also the Landlord Tenant Assistance Center (LTAC) located at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, 3rd Floor.

You may ask the Clerk for a Fee Waiver Application and Order or you may find the form online: Request To Waive Court Fees

You should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your hearing. Allow yourself enough time to park and enter the court location you are visiting. If you are visiting the Downtown Campus, please allow enough time for congested traffic areas and the train.

If damages sought are over $25,000.00 file your claim at the Metropolitan Justice Courthouse.

There are a few different ways to get your forms to begin the Small Claims process. Regional locations still offer packets at the civil window. Forms are also available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm or you may go to Online Services - File at Home to complete your form through an online interview process. Venue depends on where the defendant resides or where the action occurred. Filing fees vary and depend upon the prayer amount (demand amount) of the suit. A Small Claims action cannot exceed $10,000.00. For assistance, please contact the Small Claims Advisor located at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, 3rd floor or at 661-868-2532.

Civil Harassment packets are available free of charge at most counters where Civil filings are accepted. If you are at the Metropolitan location at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, please visit the Self Help Center and/or the Law Library on the 3rd Floor for assistance. Packets are not available at the Civil Window at the Metropolitan location. The fee for filing is $435.00 unless the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is granted by a Judicial Officer. If the TRO is granted, the fee to file is waived.

Petition for Name Change packets are available and free of charge at any counter where Civil filings are accepted. For assistance, please visit the Self Help Center and/or the Law Library located at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, 3rd floor. The fee for filing is $435.00.

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