Chief Sponsor: Kirk A. Cullimore

House Sponsor: ____________


8     General Description:
9          This bill amends provisions related to small claims actions.
10     Highlighted Provisions:
11          This bill:
12          ▸     provides that a county justice court has territorial jurisdiction within the county over
13     small claims cases;
14          ▸     provides that a municipal justice court has territorial jurisdiction over small claims
15     cases in the county that the municipal justice court resides;
16          ▸     increases the amount of an action required for a small claims action;
17          ▸     allows a debt collection agency to be an assignee for a small claims action; and
18          ▸     makes technical and conforming changes.
19     Money Appropriated in this Bill:
20          None
21     Other Special Clauses:
22          None
23     Utah Code Sections Affected:
24     AMENDS:
25          78A-7-105, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2014, Chapter 151
26          78A-8-102, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2017, Chapter 73
27          78A-8-103, as renumbered and amended by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 3


29     Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
30          Section 1. Section 78A-7-105 is amended to read:
31          78A-7-105. Territorial jurisdiction -- Voting.
32          (1) (a) The territorial jurisdiction of county justice courts extends to the limits of the
33     precinct for which the justice court is created and includes all cities or towns within the
34     precinct, [except] other than cities where a municipal justice court exists.
35          (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (1)(a), the territorial jurisdiction of a county justice
36     court extends for small claims actions to cities, within the precinct, where a municipal justice
37     court exists.
38          (2) (a) The territorial jurisdiction of municipal justice courts extends to the corporate
39     limits of the municipality in which the justice court is created.
40          (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (2)(a), the territorial jurisdiction of a municipal justice
41     court for small claims actions extends to the precinct limits of the county in which the
42     municipal justice court exists.
43          (3) Justice court judges have the same authority regarding matters within [their] the
44     justice court's jurisdiction as judges of courts of record.
45          (4) A justice court may issue all extraordinary writs and other writs as necessary to
46     carry into effect [its] the justice court's orders, judgments, and decrees.
47          (5) (a) Except as provided in this Subsection (5), a judgment rendered in a justice court
48     does not create a lien upon any real property of the judgment debtor unless the judgment or
49     abstract of the judgment:
50          (i) is recorded in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the real
51     property of the judgment debtor is located; and
52          (ii) contains the information identifying the judgment debtor in the judgment or
53     abstract of judgment as required in Subsection 78B-5-201(4)(b) or as a separate information
54     statement of the judgment creditor as required in Subsection 78B-5-201(5).
55          (b) The lien runs for eight years from the date the judgment was entered in the district
56     court under Section 78B-5-202 unless the judgment is earlier satisfied.
57          (c) State agencies are exempt from the recording requirement of Subsection (5)(a).
58          Section 2. Section 78A-8-102 is amended to read:

59          78A-8-102. Small claims -- Defined -- Counsel not necessary -- Removal from
60     district court -- Deferring multiple claims of one plaintiff -- Supreme Court to govern
61     procedures.
62          (1) A small claims action is a civil action:
63          (a) for the recovery of money when:
64          (i) the amount claimed does not exceed [$11,000] $20,000 including attorney fees, but
65     exclusive of court costs and interest; and
66          (ii) the defendant resides or the action of indebtedness was incurred within the
67     jurisdiction of the court in which the action is to be maintained; or
68          (b) involving interpleader under Rule 22 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, in
69     which the amount claimed does not exceed [$11,000] $20,000 including attorney fees, but
70     exclusive of court costs and interest.
71          (2) (a) A defendant in an action filed in the district court that meets the requirement of
72     Subsection (1)(a)(i) may remove, if agreed to by the plaintiff, the action to a small claims court
73     within the same district by:
74          (i) giving notice, including the small claims filing number, to the district court of
75     removal during the time afforded for a responsive pleading; and
76          (ii) paying the applicable small claims filing fee.
77          (b) A filing fee may not be charged to a plaintiff to appeal a judgment on an action
78     removed under Subsection (2)(a) to the district court where the action was originally filed.
79          (3) The judgment in a small claims action may not exceed [$11,000] $20,000 including
80     attorney fees, but exclusive of court costs and interest.
81          (4) (a) A counter claim may be maintained in a small claims action if the counter claim
82     arises out of the transaction or occurrence which is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim.
83          (b) A counter claim may not be raised for the first time in the trial de novo of the small
84     claims action.
85          (5) (a) A claim involving property damage from a motor vehicle accident may be
86     maintained in a small claims action, and any removal or appeal of the small claims action,
87     without limiting the ability of a plaintiff to make a claim for bodily injury against the same
88     defendant in a separate legal action. [In the event that]
89          (b) If a property damage claim is brought as a small claims action:

90          [(a)] (i) a liability decision in an original small claims action or appeal of the original
91     small claims action is not binding in a separate legal action for bodily injury; and
92          [(b)] (ii) an additional property damage claim may not be brought in a separate legal
93     action for bodily injury.
94          (6) (a) With or without counsel, persons or corporations may litigate actions on behalf
95     of themselves:
96          (i) in person; or
97          (ii) through authorized employees.
98          (b) A person or corporation may be represented in an action by an individual who is
99     not an employee of the person or corporation and is not licensed to practice law only in
100     accordance with the Utah Rules of Small Claims Procedure as made by the Supreme Court.
101          (7) (a) If a person or corporation other than a municipality or a political subdivision of
102     the state files multiple small claims in any one court, the clerk or judge of the court may
103     remove all but the initial claim from the court's calendar in order to dispose of all other small
104     claims matters.
105          (b) A claim so removed shall be rescheduled as permitted by the court's calendar.
106          (8) A small claims matter shall be managed in accordance with simplified rules of
107     procedure and evidence made by the Supreme Court.
108          Section 3. Section 78A-8-103 is amended to read:
109          78A-8-103. Assignee may not file claim.
110          (1) "Third party debt collection agency" means the same as that term is defined in
111     Section 12-1-11.
112          (2) A claim may not be filed or prosecuted in small claims court by any assignee of a
113     claim[.], unless the assignee is a third party debt collection agency.