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Conciliation Court Information

Carlton County
A Guide to Conciliation Court

Filing Fee on Claims up to $7,500.00 is $70.00

The information contained on this page is NOT intended as legal advice but as a general guide to you to explain the legal process.  If you do not understand any of these procedures, consult an attorney.  This office CANNOT give legal advice.  If you have questions, please contact the conciliation court.  Most forms referred to on this page are available from the court.
What is conciliation court?

Conciliation court was created to allow citizens to bring their legal claims before the court without expensive costs, attorney fees, or complicated legal procedures.

Do you have a claim for conciliation court?

Conciliation court can settle claims that are below the limit set by law (see limit above).  It can also order that property be returned.  However, claims involving the following are not allowed:

   - title to real estate
   - libel or slander
   - class actions
   - medical malpractice

You can reduce the amount of your claim so it can be heard in conciliation court.  If you do reduce your claim, you will not be allowed to ask for more money later.  You may not file any other claims related to the same incident.You should consider whether the person the claim is against (the defendant) will be able to pay you.  Although you may win your case, conciliation court is not a collection agency.  Check the back of your judgment form for information on how to collect.

Where do you file a claim in conciliation court?

Generally, you must file your claim in the county where the person you are making a claim against (the defendant) lives.  Exceptions include:

   - most bad checks issued in the county
   - security deposits and rent
These are filed in the county where the check was written or rental property is located
   - corporations are sued at a place of business (consult the Secretary of State at 651.296.2803
   - see Minnesota Statutes, chapter 491A for other exceptions
How do you file a claim in conciliation court?

If you are filing a claim, you are the plaintiff.  The form for filing is available from conciliation court. You must have the following information:


  - Your name and address and the exact full legal name and address of the defendant (home address if the defendant is an individual);

  - The amount of your claim and the reason for it.  Describe loss sustained and basis for estimate of the loss.   Include date any bill was incurred and date of last payment, if any payments were received.  Indicate type of services/goods provided.  BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE.  Interest or finance charges should be listed separately.  If filing for non-payment of rent, please list the months of the unpaid rent.  When filing for an auto accident, please give year and make of vehicle and the date, time and location of the accident.  Two estimates are required at time of filing and you must file for the amount of the lower estimate.  All details of a claim may be stated in court at the time of the trial.

  - The date your claim arose.

  - You may ask for return of property if it is worth $7,500 or less.  It is important to clearly describe the property you want (i.e. color, year made, serial no., etc.).



Sign the claim in front of a Notary Public or come to the conciliation court to sign the claim before a clerk.  (Your signature must be notarized if the claim is signed outside of the court administrator's office).  Return the entire completed form with the correct filing fee.  Make checks payable to "Court Administrator".  Do NOT sent attachments except for the following:  2 estimates on vehicle accident claims, bad checks, and promissory notes. 

Bring any other evidence with you to court.  You will be notified by mail of the date for your hearing, at which time you will be required to appear to present your claim to the court.

If your claim is $2,500 or less, the court administrator will serve defendant by first class mail and will mail notice to you and the defendant of the date when your claim is to be heard.  If the claim is more than this, you must serve defendant by certified mail or personal service, and proof of service must be provided to the conciliation court. 

Many claims are settled once notice is received.  The party making the claim should notify the court, in writing, of a settlement right away.  Settlements are desirable for many reasons: it's a compromise you agreed to as opposed to a decision imposed by a judge; it's final.   It avoids future expense and inconvenience.  You should make every effort to settle your claim.

What happens if I can't come the day of the hearing?

If you have a conflict with the court date, send a written note to the conciliation court and to the other party right away.  The note should give the reason you can't be at the hearing, and it should be received 5 working days before the hearing.  You may only ask to change your court date once, and you may have to pay up to $50.

What happens if I receive a summons? 

This means that you are being sued; you are the defendant in the case.  If you deny the claim you must appear at trial.  If you ignore the summons, a default judgment may be entered ordering you to pay the amount plaintiff is requesting.

If you feel the plaintiff owes you money you may file a counterclaim.  You must file your counterclaim at least 5 days before the date set for a hearing (Saturday, Sunday, and holidays not included).  You will have to pay a filing fee.  The conciliation court will notify plaintiff if a counterclaim is filed.

If the counterclaim exceeds the legal limit, you may waive the amount in excess of the limit, or file an affidavit stating (1) the existence of the counterclaim and that it exceeds the legal limits, and (2) that you have brought or will bring a claim in district court against plaintiff within 30 days.  If you do not bring the claim within 30 days, plaintiff may have his or her claim reinstated.

How do you prepare for the hearing? 

Conciliation court hearings are informal, but you must be prepared to present your case.   Attorneys are allowed but may participate only as much as the court allows.   The witnesses should be present and ready to testify.  All parties and witnesses who appear will testify under oath.  If witnesses are reluctant to appear, you may use a subpoena to require them to appear.  A subpoena is available from conciliation court for a fee.  Written statements and affidavits of persons not present in court may have little value.

You should bring all other evidence, such as receipts, repair bills, estimates, and other items which relate to the dispute to court.  You can also subpoena documents which relate to the dispute which another person has but is not willing to give to you.

You should prepare a list of facts you wish to present before you go to court.  Organize your presentation to make it clear and complete.  Be brief and to the point.

What happens if you fail to appear for the hearing?
If the defendant does not appear after filing a counterclaim, a default judgment may be entered.  If plaintiff does not appear, the claim may be dismissed or a default judgment may be entered in favor of the defendant on any counterclaim.
What happens after the hearing? 

Normally, the court will not decide your claim at the time of the hearing.  When a decision is reached, you will receive a Notice of Judgment by mail.  This becomes final on the date shown on the notice.  Read all notices and instructions carefully.

You have the right to appeal a decision.  Information regarding appeals is on the back of the judgment form.