Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The purpose of this Special Project is to analyze the development of procedures for adjudicating small claims, with particular emphasis on the State of Tennessee, and to suggest statutory revisions that may be of value in improving the quality of justice at the lowest level of the judicial system. The Project study commences with an historical survey of the origins of small claims theory and the various court attempts to apply the theory that have been made in the United States during the last half-century. The result of this analysis will be a characterization of a model small claims court.The development and operation of Tennessee procedures for adjudicating small claims will then be examined within the limits of this characterization. Although Tennessee has no small claims court as such, the general sessions courts have been the primary courts for adjudicating claims for small amounts. The general sessions courts will be evaluated to determine whether they presently function adequately as small claims courts. The last section of the Project will comprise a study of the policies to be considered in drafting a small claims statute. Although the model statute is designed in light of the particular constitutional, statutory and political characteristics of the Tennessee court system, it is hoped that by illuminating the proper goals of small claims procedure and the various methods of achieving those goals, this Project will be useful to other states in reforming their small claims procedures.