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Small Claims General Information

Small Claims is a special court where individuals representing themselves resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively in an informal setting. The person who sues is the plaintiff; the person who is sued is the defendant. In small claims court, you may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court, but you may not have a lawyer in court.

The defendant must be served by a certain date and the proof of service must be returned to the court clerk by a certain date as follows:

  • If the defendant lives in the county, service must be completed at least 15 days before the trial date. Service must be completed 20 days before trial if the defendant lives outside the county.

  • Proof of service must be filed with the court clerk at least five days prior to the trial.

If these deadlines are not met, the trial may be postponed.

Where to File a Claim

The plaintiff must file the claim in the correct court or the case may be dismissed. San Diego Superior Court Rules govern the venue of cases.


The proper court location may be determined by any of the following:

  • The zip code where the defendant resides or the defendant corporation or other entity has its principal place of business.

  • The zip code where the person or personal property was injured or damaged.

  • The zip code where the defendant signed the contract or where the contract was breached.

  • The zip code where the buyer resided at the time of entering into a retail installment account, or contract on motor vehicle finance sale.

Small Claims Court Location

330 W. Broadway

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone Number

(858) 634-1919


8:30a.m. - 4:00p.m.

Monday - Friday

Small Claims Advisor

The advisor is available Monday-Thursday to assist by telephone only with small claims issues and procedures.

Phone Number:

(858) 634-1777 
Phone Hours:  

Monday to Thursday 

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

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