Conciliation Court is also known as "small claims" court. Claims of $7,500 or less can be filed in Conciliation Court.
Conciliation Court procedures are easier to follow and the filing fee is lower than the District Court level.
You do not need a lawyer to go to Concilation Court. Even corporations can represent themselves through an officer or authorized agent.
Filing fees are substantially lower than district court, and the time it takes to get a decision is much shorter.
The conciliation court has jurisdiction to hear, conciliate, try, and determine civil claims if the amount of money or property that is the subject matter of the claim does not exceed: (1) $7,500; (2) $4,000, if the claim involves a consumer credit transaction; or (3) $15,000, if the claim involves money or personal property subject to forfeiture under Minn. Stat. sections 609.5311, 609.5312, 609.5314, or 609.5318. The conciliation court also has jurisdiction to determine the ownership and possession of property and direct any party to deliver the property to another party.
Claims that can be brought in Conciliation Court
Most types of legal claims that you can pursue in the state district court can be pursued in conciliation court, with exceptions noted below. The available remedies, though, are more limited. Claims are limited to recovery of money damages. You cannot sue for specific performance of an agreement (except to seek turnover of personal property) or seek replacement of damaged property, only the monetary equivalent.
Typical claims include:
(a) claims by creditors for unpaid debts, (b) claims by employees for unpaid wages, (c) claims by tenants for return of security deposits, (d) claims by landlords for damage to property, and (e) claims about the possession or ownership of personal property.
Claims that cannot be brought in Conciliation Court
The conciliation court does not have jurisdiction over the following actions:
(1) disputes about title to real estate, including boundary disputes, (2) libel or slander claims, (3) class actions, (4) professional malpractice claims, (5) actions against deceased people. There are some additional restrictions listed in the jurisdictional statute (see link below).
o writs of execution, garnishments
o claims for injunctive relief
o claims for specific performance (except with regard to ownership and possession of personal property).
Once you file a claim, you cannot later file another claim for more money related to the same event(s).
Like any judgment, you are responsible for collection. Collecting a judgment can be difficult and may involve additional out-of-pocket expenses for filing fees and other costs (some of which may be recoverable from the judgment debtor).
The loser may appeal to the District Court, and if the happens a trial de novo will be held. This means that the case will be heard as a brand new trial in district court without any reference to the conciliation court proceedings - none of the evidence or other information regarding the basis for the decision will be considered by the district court, and the conciliation court judgment will have no effect on the new trial. All claims and counter-claims must be presented in full as though the conciliation court proceeding never occurred.
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