The Difference Between Large Claims and Small Claims

If you are representing yourself in District Court, difference between “small” and “large” claims is perhaps the most important information you need to know about the legal process. Understanding these important differences will help you prepare and present your case in the District Court.

Legal Cases in District Court
Topic Small Claim Large Claim
Amount of Claim The maximum amount of money you can try to recover in small claims court is $5,000 (excluding interest, costs and attorneys fees, if any). A small claims action can only request a money

A large claim is for any amount more than $5,000 but less than $30,000 (excluding interest, costs and attorneys fees, if any). Large claims may also include demands for orders protective order.
Hearing/trial Schedule

Small claims are considered a “special proceeding.” This means that the district courts set aside a certain day or time for small claims cases. District courts may also set aside a certain location for the small claims docket if there is more than one District Court location in your area.

For more information, call the court clerk.

The District Court schedules large claim cases to be heard throughout the week during regular court hours.

For more information, call the court clerk.

Court Rules of Evidence Small claims are handled in an informal manner. The formal rules of evidence do not apply. Maryland Rule 3-701(f)  This means that non-attorneys will have an easier time in preparing and presenting small claims actions for trial. For additional assistance on how to prepare your case, more information can be found in the links below to other People’s Law Library Articles and on the District Court of Maryland’s website on small claims. You must follow the formal rules of evidence found in Maryland Rules Title 5. It is important that you read and understand these rules so that all of the testimony, documents, or other materials you need to prove your case are admitted as evidence during the trial. An attorney can help.
Discovery “Discovery” is legal term that refers to ways in which one side can find out more information about the other side’s case. This might include interrogatories or depositions.
No discovery is allowed in small claims court. Maryland Rule 3-701(e) Limited “interrogatories” are allowed in large claims. This means no more than 15 written questions. Maryland Rule 3-421(b) You may also conduct a deposition if the other side agrees in writing (a stipulation). Maryland Rule 3-401(a)
If you lose in the District Court, and you have no agreement with the winning side about the record, your appeal to the Circuit Court is de novo, which means you must present your case all over again to the Circuit Court. Maryland Rule 7-102(a).
Appeals of large claims
cases from the District Court to the Circuit Court are on the record appeals, which means no new evidence may
be added to the case on
Location Your local district court


A special project of the Eastern Shore Regional Library under a Library Services Technology Act grant from the Division of Library Development Services/MD State Department of Education (author: Ayn H. Crawley). Edits by Regina Strait, Esq.
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2019.”