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New York Civil Courts Raise Monetary Threshold to $50,000

The New York Civil Courts have updated their monetary limits for the first time since 1983. This change affects filing costs and the courts' efficiency. This overview will examine the reasons for this decision and its implications, especially for creditors and consumers. 

Comparison of Filing Fees: Civil Court vs. Supreme Court

Starting January 1, 2022, New York Civil Courts expanded their jurisdictional threshold from $25,000 to $50,000. This change not only offers a more affordable court option for claims between $25,000 and $50,000 but also presents a stark contrast in filing fees: the Supreme Court charges $210 for an initial index number, while the Civil Court charges $45 for commercial claims and $140 for consumer credit transactions.

Supreme Court charges $95 to assign a judge to intervene. The civil court charges no such fee. Despite the increased monetary limit in civil courts, creditors are not restricted by claim amounts. They can still opt for the faster New York Supreme Court for cases likely to be uncontested or easily won. The Supreme Court of New York typically has more resources, including judges and administrative staff, which can contribute to a faster resolution of cases compared to the Civil Courts.

Inflation party responsible for Civil Court's increase in monetary jurisdiction-The Langel Firm

Money Threshold Increased Due to Inflation and Caseloads

This amendment, approved in a recent ballot, aims to account for inflation and alleviate the pressures on the already strained New York Supreme Court. The last such adjustment was in 1983 when the limit was raised from $10,000 to $25,000.

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Jurisdiction of New York Civil Courts

The Civil Court can handle cases involving amounts up to $50,000, including disputes over possession of items (replevin) valued within this limit. It also oversees property-related matters, like property divisions and mortgage foreclosures, as long as the financial stakes don't exceed $50,000. Additionally, the court can address issues related to property disputes, eviction cases, and contract adjustments, provided they fall within the set monetary cap.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to hear and decide cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. In other words, it's the court's power to rule on the particular issues in a case.

Types of Cases Brought in New Civil Court

The Civil Court predominantly deals with cases aiming for monetary compensation. Common cases include:

  1. Various loans: from banks, credit cards, personal loans, and home renovations to student loans.
  2. Payment for delivered goods.
  3. Compensation for labor and services rendered.
  4. Outstanding hospital bills covering room charges, medications, or treatments.
  5. Fees for professional services, such as dental or legal assistance.
  6. Payments for trade services like plumbing or electrical tasks.
  7. Compensation for personal property damages, like car accidents or home damages.
  8. Personal injury claims.
  9. Claims by insurance companies seeking reimbursement after compensating their clients.
  10. Unpaid rent after a tenant has vacated.
  11. Disputes between commercial landlords and tenants.

A few other differences between the Civil Court and the Supreme Court in New York?

  1. Appeals: Some decisions from the Supreme Court may be appealed to a higher court, the Appellate Division, First Department, while the Appellate Term hears appeals from the New York City Civil Court and the New York City Criminal Court for New York and Bronx Counties.
  2. Location: The Civil Court is located in the New York County Courthouse, while the Supreme Court's main courthouse is at 60 Centre Street, which also houses the Appellate Term.
  3. Powers: The judges in the Civil Court can order the payment of money or fines and make decisions about family or housing matters, while the judges in the Supreme Court have broader powers and can also order jail sentences for criminal offenses. 

Pros and cons of increased monetary jurisdiction in NY courts

Pros and Cons of the Monetary Increase:



Facilitates more equitable access for self-represented individuals.

Civil court cases in nearly all New York City boroughs are experiencing significant delays.

Creditors aren't bound by claim amounts in the Supreme Court, offering more flexibility.

In New York Civil (Manhattan), the wait for judgments has extended from nine months to 18-24 months.

For undefended cases or those resolvable via summary judgment, the New York Supreme Court might be faster.

A trial in Civil Queens could have a wait time of up to three years, with an additional one to two years post-trial for a judgment.

Procedure for Self-Represented Cases

When individuals represent themselves and file a case or respond to a case initiated by a lawyer, their case is automatically scheduled for a conference in the court’s Personal Appearance Part. Judges in this section manage all preliminary proceedings, from initial conferences to pre-trial motions, ensuring a streamlined process.

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Implications for the Future

The increase in the monetary limit for the New York civil courts is a significant development that will have a lasting impact on the court system. It is still too early to say the long-term implications of this change, but it will have a major impact on creditors, debtors, and the court system.

Here are some specific implications that could arise from the increase in the monetary limit:

  • The Civil Court may become more congested as more cases are filed.
  • The wait times for cases to be resolved may increase.
  • The quality of justice may decline, as the Civil Court may be unable to handle the increased workload.

Overall, the increase in the monetary limit for the New York civil courts is a complex issue with far-reaching implications. It is important to carefully consider all of the potential impacts of this change before making a decision about whether to file a case in the Civil Court or the Supreme Court.

The Langel Firm