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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?

On a Defendant’s Claim, you must file in the court house where the Plaintiff’s Claims is filed.

If you are filing your own Plaintiff’s Claim, please refer to the information below.

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. This is called the venue.

If you file in the wrong court, the Judge may refuse to hear your case.

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.
  • If your case involves property damage or personal injury, you can file in the court nearest to where the damage or injury occurred.

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 zip codes for the above locations, you can use the Filing Court Locator to help you find the right court.

What can I 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 sued in the wrong court, they can challenge the court venue or location.

How do I challenge the court venue or location?

You 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 my 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 25, 2018