On May 24, 2019, House Bill 337 was approved by Governor Ron DeSantis which would effectively amend Section 34.01 of the Florida Statutes, by increasing the jurisdictional amounts of our court actions. The Bill also makes changes to Section 26.012 which deals with appellate rights. These jurisdictional amendments came by bombshell for the first time since 1992. As our trial court system is divided into two different tiers, each court has their own jurisdictional limit that is required to be met prior to filing, in order to commence an action in that specific court. The jurisdictional amount is commonly referred to as the “amount in controversy.” The division of Florida’s trial court system is between our County courts and our Circuit courts.
What is the Small Claims Limit in Florida?
A small claims action is considered a case that involves a minor legal dispute, dealing with a small amount of money at question. These claims are regularly dealt with in our county courts. Accordingly, not only were the trial courts modified, lawmakers decided to raise the amount of damages being sought after in small claims as well, from $5,000 to $8,000.
What is the Minimum Dollar Amount of a Civil Case in a Florida Circuit Court?
The minimum dollar amount to bring forth a claim in a Florida Circuit court is in excess of $30,000. January 1, 2020 was the first day the changes took effect, raising our civil jurisdiction limits from $15,000 to $30,000 or less on the county court level, and in excess of $30,000 on the circuit court level. As our circuit courts are our highest-level trial court, this essentially means that more cases will be brought forth to our county courts now that the jurisdictional amounts have been increased on that level. Hopefully offering faster resolutions to both tiers as our circuit courts will receive fewer cases at hand. However, the changes will not affect any legal actions filed with the courts prior to the first day of this year.
Additionally, all civil actions filed after December 31, 2019 would not only have to meet the new jurisdictional threshold, but the action is required to be filed with an appropriate cover sheet that lists the total amount in controversy, so that the court administrators may log and report the changes to our respective lawmakers on February 1, 2021. Tracking of these new changes will help lawmakers review the impact that their decisions have made. Nonetheless, the Bill also intends to raise the civil jurisdictional amounts once more, from $30,000 to $50,000, which will go into effect in early 2023.