Small Claims Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: this is general information which may not apply to your case.
Q. Can my small claims cases in Contra Costa County be mediated by telephone?
A. Yes, if the case has already been filed and served.
Q: If I want to try mediation, do I have to go to court?
A: Please calendar your hearing date, and plan to attend unless a Mediated Settlement Agreement has been signed.
Q: How do I request and schedule telephone mediation with The Congress?
A: First, download a case information sheet. Please provide the following:
- Case Number
- Case Name (claimant and defendant)
- Hearing Date
- Claimant (the person who filed a lawsuit)’s Name
- Claimant’s Address
- Claimant’s telephone number, fax number or e-mail
- Defendant (the person who is sued) name
- Defendant’s address
- Defendant’s telephone number, fax number or e-mail
- Type of case – consumer contract, other contract, landlord/tenant, personal injury, etc.
Second, download an Agreement to Mediate form, date and sign as plaintiff or defendant, then send via US mail, fax or e-mail both the case information sheet and the signed Agreement to Mediate to The Congress of Neutrals.
When we receive information about the other disputant, we will contact them and find out if they want to try mediation. Mediation is voluntary, and The Congress cannot compel a party to try mediation.
Q: How soon will I hear from The Congress of Neutrals if the other party wants to mediate?
A: It depends. Sometimes the other side does not return our telephone calls. If you do not hear from us, assume that the mediation will not take place and GO TO YOUR HEARING.
Q: When does mediation occur?
A: At a time convenient for plaintiff, defendant and the mediator. It may be scheduled in the evening or on the weekend if everybody agrees.
Q: How much does telephone mediation cost?
A: There is no charge if this is a small claims case filed in Contra Costa County.
Q: Will I lose my court date if I go to mediation?
A: No. If the case does not settle at telephone mediation, you go to the hearing. If the case does settle (a written settlement agreement is signed by both sides), you do not need to go to the court.
Q: How do we exchange settlement agreement?
A: This is usually done by FAX, and sometimes by U.S. Mail.
Q: What do I do if a party does not perform according the settlement agreement?
A: You can contact the Small Claims Advisor about enforcement. You can file a new small claims action based on the Mediated Settlement Agreement, or you can ask the Clerk of the Court to reopen your case or reset it for a hearing.
Q: What do I do if I do not have a fax machine?
A: If the disputants agree, the mediator will put their agreement into a draft written settlement agreement. This is faxed to both parties for reading, review, changes and finally signatures. If you do not have FAX machine, please go to a business which provides fax service such as FedexKinko’s, UPS Store or other MailBoxes type business.