A conciliation court is a court where legal matters involving relatively low sums of money are handled. This type of court is also known as a small claims court. People can bring cases in conciliation court while representing themselves, keeping costs low, and often the fees associated with filing and handling other court matters are lower than those for a more general civil court. This provides access to the legal system for people who might have trouble affording court costs in a regular court.
Some examples of cases a conciliation court may hear are landlord-tenant disputes, professional disputes over nonpayment for services, and so forth. The parties can use attorneys, but more commonly present or defend their cases themselves. Anyone can file a claim in conciliation court, although if someone files nuisance suits, there may be legal penalties. The parties to the case are heard by a judge who makes a ruling and decides whether damages are owed.
Costs of pursuit in a regular civil court can be high. People have to pay court fees and attorney fees and may not even recover damages in the case if the judge rules against them. This makes minor pursuits not worth it to many parties, because people may spend more trying to get justice than they can recover. Conciliation court provides an avenue for resolving these minor matters, allowing people to claim damages if they believe they are entitled, and it also frees up larger courts for other legal matters.
One option for people facing conciliation court is mediation. In some cases, people may be obliged to try mediation before proceeding to court, and in other cases, people will be advised when filing that mediation is an option. The parties can sit down to a negotiation with a neutral third party to see if it is possible to resolve the case amicably without bringing it into court, saving time and expense on both sides. If mediation is not an option or is not effective, people can proceed to conciliation court.
Conciliation courts usually provide some basic information about decorum, policies, and court procedure to help people prepare. It is important to prepare a case well when getting ready to go to court and to comply with court rules, including filing deadlines, dress codes, and the proper format for addressing the judge. While the case may be minor, the law is still respected, and people are expected to follow normal courtroom procedure.