New Hampshire District and Municipal Court Small Claims Actions: An Overview

Learn about filing a small claims case in New Hampshire District or Municipal Court.

By , Attorney

What's the small claims court dollar limit in New Hampshire Small Claims Court?

You can ask for up to $10,000 in a small claims action filed in New Hampshire District or Municipal Court—the courts that handle small claims matters in New Hampshire.

Can a landlord bring an eviction lawsuit in New Hampshire Small Claims Court?

No. Evictions aren't heard as small claims in New Hampshire District or Municipal Court. However, the small claims division is an excellent forum for other types of cases typically brought in small claims courts, such as property damage matters and breach of contract disputes.

Where should I file my small claims case in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire has many courthouses. You must choose the proper court location or "venue," otherwise, the defendant—the person or company you sue—will be able to ask the court to transfer or dismiss your action. In New Hampshire, you can file in the following court:

  • In the municipal court in the town in which the defendant or the plaintiff resides, or
  • if none, in the district court in the district in which the defendant or the plaintiff resides.

Go to the New Hampshire Secretary of State business name lookup webpage for company information. Also, be aware that you might have other options, depending on your case. Most courts post venue rules on the court website.

What's the deadline to file a case in small claims court in New Hampshire?

You don't have an unlimited amount of time to file a claim. You'll have to bring it within the statute of limitations period for your particular case. For example, the New Hampshire statute of limitations is three years for contracts, personal injury cases, and property damage matters. Other limitations periods exist, depending on the type of action. If you don't file within the proper period, you lose your right to sue.

Also, the statute of limitations can stop and restart depending on various circumstances, and figuring out when it expires can be challenging. For instance, if a minor is injured, the personal injury statute won't begin running until the child reaches 18 years of age. Learn more about calculating the statute of limitations.

Can an attorney represent a small claims claimant in New Hampshire Small Claims Court?

Yes. Individuals can have a lawyer present the claim before the small claims judge.

Does the defendant have to answer the small claims complaint?

Yes. The defendant must respond in writing within 30 days from the date the court mails the notice to avoid an automatic loss and default judgment. The defendant must include any counterclaim requesting a recovery from the plaintiff in the response.

Learn what happens if you get sued in small claims court.

Will I have a judge or jury trial in small claims court in New Hampshire?

A judge will hear your case. However, if the plaintiff's claim is over $1,500, the defendant can request a jury trial, and the court will transfer the case to the superior court. Fees to compensate for juror costs (jury fees) will likely need to be deposited, as well.

Find out what to expect at the small claims trial.

Can I appeal a New Hampshire small claims case?

The person who loses the case can appeal the decision. You'll have to file the appeal within 30 days of the rendition of judgment or of the clerk's notice of the judgment, whichever is later. You must comply with this and other rules, or you'll lose your appeal rights, so if you're confused about the process, talk with a local attorney.

Will the court collect my judgment for me?

No. You'll be responsible for all collection efforts. It's a good idea to determine whether you can collect before deciding whether to sue.

Where can I learn more about small claims court in New Hampshire?

Most courts include filing instructions on the court website or provide self-help services. For additional resources, try the New Hampshire Judicial Branch's small claims court webpage or the small claims information provided by the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

You can also view New Hampshire statutory law online on the New Hampshire State's statute webpage to view the statutory codes (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 503:1 to 503:11) and applicable court rules on the New Hampshire State Court Rules webpage (New Hampshire Rules of the Circuit Court - District Division, Rules 4.1 to 4.28).

For detailed help with case filing, court strategy, and collecting a money judgment, see Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court by Attorney Cara O'Neill (Nolo).

Look out for Legal Changes. This overview doesn't provide all of the information needed to file a small claims case. Also, keep in mind that statutes can change, and checking them is always a good idea. How the courts interpret and apply the law can also change. These are just some of the reasons to consult an attorney if you have any questions about litigating your case or if you aren't comfortable independently verifying the law.