Venue: Filing in the Right Court
Find the right court at which to file your case.
Venue: Filing in the Right Court
Where do I file my case?
You need to file your case in the correct County in California and in the correct courthouse within the county. If the Plaintiff sues in the wrong court, the Judge may refuse to hear the case.
There are twelve Small Claims Courts in the County of Los Angeles. You can only file your case at one court and you must choose the right one.
How do I choose the right court location?
Here are some of the ways to choose the right court to file your case:
- You can file in the court nearest to where the person you’re suing lives or where the business is located.
- If your case involves a contract, you can file at the court nearest to where the contract was signed by the Defendant. You can also file where the contract was to be carried out, as long as they are able to be served in California.
- If your case involves property damage or personal injury, you can file in the court nearest to where the damage or injury occurred. Court papers must be served to the Defendant in California unless the case involved real estate in California or a vehicle accident on a California Highway.
Based on these choices, there may be more than one court to choose from. If so, choose the court that is most convenient for you. If you know the Los Angeles County zip codes for the above locations, you can use the Filing Court Locator to help you find the right court.
Can the defendant challenge the court location?
Yes. The defendant does have the option of filing a venue challenge letter if they believe they are being sued in the wrong court location or county.
Do I have to go to court if the defendant challenges the court location?
Yes. The plaintiff must go to court if the defendant challenges the court location. The defendant does not have to appear on the court date.
What can I, the defendant, do if I am being sued in the wrong court?
The Plaintiff must sue in the right court. If the Plaintiff sues in the wrong court, the Judge can refuse to hear the case.
If the defendant believes they are being sued in the wrong court, they can challenge the court venue or location.
How do I, the defendant, challenge the court venue or location?
The defendant must write a letter to the court. The letter should include the following:
- State that you want to “challenge the venue”
- Explain why you believe you are being sued in the wrong court
- Name the correct court the case should be moved to
- Include a copy of the Plaintiff’s Claim that was served on you.
Here’s a sample venue challenge letter you can print and use.
Mail a copy of your letter to court and to the Plaintiff. We recommend that you write to the court at least 10 days before your scheduled court date.
Do I have to go to court if I challenge the court location?
No. If you challenge the court location, you do not have to go to the court on your court date.
When will the Judge review the venue challenge letter?
The Judge will review your letter on the scheduled court date.
What will happen after the Judge reviews the letter?
If the Judge rules that the case is filed at the right court, the hearing will be postponed for at least 15 calendar days. The court will notify all parties of the new court date by mail.
If the Judge rules that the Plaintiff filed in the wrong court, the Judge will either dismiss the case or transfer it to the correct court. If the case is dismissed, the Plaintiff will have to re-file the case at the right court location.
Court forms are available at California Courts – Forms. Select “Small Claims” from the pull down menu. Forms are also available at the Court Clerk’s office.
County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: April 19, 2018