Small claims in the US from the UK?
February 15, 2013 6:36 AM   Subscribe

How can I file a small claims court claim in Philadelphia when I am in the UK?

I made a transaction for ~£400 (~$600) with someone in Philadelphia. They paid via PayPal and I posted the items with proof of postage. After they received the items they filed a chargeback on their credit card. Despite giving the tracking information to PayPal, the credit card company has not honoured the payment. I've also been charged three £14 fees on top of losing the cash.

I have all the documentation (emails, postage proofs, etc) and this sounds perfect for small claims court. The only problem is I'm across an ocean. This money means enough to me that I don't just want to write it off. Is there any way I can do this?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total)
If it were Atlanta, I'd do it. (Because I like to advocate, and I love court!) Perhaps there's a Philly based mefite willing to help you out?

We lawyers have a fancy term for this behavior: unlicensed practice of law. A natural person has the right to represent himself, but a person who represents another before the court must be a licensed lawyer in that jurisdiction.

A small claims action could be filed. It would cost a few hundred dollars for the filing fee and service of process. Since OP will not be filing from the UK to appear in court, OP will need to hire a local lawyer in Pennsylvania. The lawyer will cost more than the lost $600. In short, going to court will throw good money after bad. OP will spend a few thousand dollars to collect $600.

I recommend seeking whatever remedies are available through PayPal.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:37 AM on February 15, 2013

You would need to retain the services of an attorney licensed in Philadelphia to represent you there if you're unable to be there in person. Given that this would cost more than the loss you claim, that seems like an unproductive use of your money.
posted by dfriedman at 7:59 AM on February 15, 2013

I've won a small claims case by post between the UK and Australia. Yay. They didn't pay even then.

I would be more inclined to pursue this as a fraud case and deal directly with Paypal UK and the credit card provider.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:09 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

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