District Court Rules

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), these rules shall govern the procedure in all civil actions in the district courts and county courts (hereinafter collectively called the "district courts") of this state. They shall apply in the small claims division of district courts except as may be modified by Rule 10 of these rules.

(b) These rules shall not apply to an appeal of a tax assessment from an equalization board to the county court. Rule 9 of these rules, however, shall apply to a tax-assessment appeal from county court to circuit court.

(c) Where applicable and unless otherwise specifically modified herein, the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Arkansas Rules of Evidence shall apply to and govern matters of procedure and evidence in the district courts of this State. Actions in the small claims division of district court shall be tried informally before the court with relaxed rules of evidence, see Rule 10(d)(2) of these rules.

(d) Rules specific to criminal proceedings in district court shall so indicate, and in such cases, such rules shall apply to actions pending in city courts.
(e) Other matters affecting district courts may be found in Administrative Order Number 18.

Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; amended May 24, 2001, effective July 1, 2001; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005; revised October 9, 2008, effective January 1, 2009.

(a) These rules shall not be construed to extend or affect the jurisdiction of the district courts of this State or the venue of actions therein.
(b) There shall be no jury trials in district court. In order that the right of trial by jury remains inviolate, all appeals from judgment in district court shall be de novo to circuit court.

History

History. Revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005

A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the clerk of the proper court who shall note thereon the date and precise time of filing. However, an action shall not be deemed commenced as to any defendant not served with the complaint, in accordance with these rules, within 120 days of the date on which the complaint is filed, unless within that time and for good cause shown the court, by written order or docket entry, extends the time for service.

History. Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005

A complaint shall be in writing and signed by the plaintiff or his or her attorney, if any. It shall also: (a) state the names of the parties, the nature and basis of the claim, and the nature and amount of the relief sought; (b) warn the defendant to file a written answer with the clerk of the court, and to serve a copy to the plaintiff or his or her attorney, within 30 days after service of the complaint upon him; (c) warn the defendant that failure to file an answer may result in a default judgment being entered against him; (d) recite the address of the plaintiff or his or her attorney, if any; and (e) contain a proof of service form which shall be completed by the person serving the defendant. No separate summons is required.
COMPLAINT - FORM

___________ Court of ___________, Arkansas

___________________________________, Plaintiff

vs. No. _________

___________________________________, Defendant

Plaintiff's Address: ____________________________

Defendant’s Address: ____________________________

Nature of Claim: ____________________________
Nature and Amount of Relief Claimed: ____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
____________________________

Date Claim Arose: ____________________________

Factual Basis of Claim: ____________________________

Plaintiff's Attorney, if any, and Address: ____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
___________________________________
[Signature of Attorney, if
any, or of Plaintiff]

SUMMONS AND NOTICE TO DEFENDANT

You are hereby warned to file a written answer with the clerk of the court within 30 days after the date that you receive this complaint and to send a copy to the plaintiff or to his or her attorney. If you do not file an answer within 30 days, or if you fail to file an answer, a default judgment may be entered against you.
______________________________
[Signature of Clerk or Judge]

PROOF OF SERVICE
STATE OF ARKANSAS
CITY OF ______________________________
I, _______________________, hereby certify that I served the within complaint on the defendant, ________________________, at o'clock _____.m. on ____________ 2_____, by [state method of service].
_____________________________
[Signature and Office, if any]
Subscribed and sworn to before me this _____ day of _________ 2_____,
[To be completed if service is by someone other than sheriff or constable.]
____________________________
Notary Public or Court Clerk
My Commission Expires: ____________

History. Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005; amended June 2, 2011, effective July 1, 2011.

(a) By Whom Served. A copy of the complaint shall be served upon each defendant by a sheriff or constable or any other person permitted to make service under Rule 4(c) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
(b) Proof of Service. The person serving the complaint shall promptly make proof of service thereof to the clerk of the court. Proof of service shall reflect that which has been done to show compliance with these rules. Service by one other than the sheriff or constable shall state by affidavit the time, place, and manner of service.

History

History. Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005

(a) Contents of Answer. An answer shall be in writing and signed by the defendant or his or her attorney, if any. It shall also state: (1) the reasons for denial of the relief sought by the plaintiff, including any affirmative defenses and the factual bases therefor; (2) any affirmative relief sought by the defendant, whether by way of counterclaim, set-off, cross-claim, or third-party claim, the factual bases for such relief, and the names and addresses of other persons needed for determination of the claim for affirmative relief; and (3) the address of the defendant or his or her attorney, if any.

(b) Time for Filing Answer or Reply. A defendant shall file an answer with the clerk of the court within thirty (30) days after the service of the complaint upon the defendant. An answer to a cross-claim and a reply to a counterclaim shall be filed with the clerk of the court within 20 days of the date that the pleading asserting the claim is served. A copy of an answer or reply shall also be served on the opposing party or parties in accordance with Rule 5(b) of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF - FORM

_____________ Court Of _____________, Arkansas

__________________, Plaintiff

vs. No. ______

__________________, Defendant

Defendant's Address: __________________________________________________________

Reasons for Denial of Plaintiff's Claim: ______________________________________

Affirmative Defenses: _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Nature and Amount of Affirmative Relief Sought: _______________________________

__________________________________________________________

Date Affirmative Claim Arose: _________________________________________________

Factual Basis of Affirmative Claim: ___________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Names and Addresses of Other Persons Needed for Determination of Affirmative Claim:

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Defendant's Attorney, if any, and Address: ____________________________________

_______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

[Signature of Attorney, if any, or of Defendant]

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

The undersigned hereby certifies that a true and correct copy of the foregoing answer was served on [plaintiff or attorney for plaintiff, as appropriate] on the ________ date of __________________, 2 ____, by [state method of service used, e.g., hand delivery, mail, commercial delivery service].

_________________________________________________

[Signature of Defendant or Defendant's Attorney]

History. Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005; amended June 2, 2011, effective July 1, 2011.

(a) Subject Matter Jurisdiction. The civil jurisdiction of district courts is set out in Administrative Order Number 18.
(b) Plaintiff's Claim Exceeds Jurisdictional Amount. If the plaintiff's claim is in an amount that exceeds the court's jurisdictional limit, the court, upon its own motion or upon motion of either party, shall dismiss the claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
(c) Compulsory Counterclaim or Set-off. If a compulsory counterclaim or a set-off involves an amount that would cause the court to lose jurisdiction of the case, the court, upon its own motion or upon motion of either party, shall transfer the entire case to circuit court for determination therein as if the case had been appealed.
(d) Permissive Counterclaim, Cross-Claim, or Third-Party Claim. If a permissive counterclaim, a cross-claim, or a third-party claim involves an amount that would otherwise cause the court to lose jurisdiction of the case, the court shall disregard such counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim and proceed to determine the claim of the plaintiff.

History

History. Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005

(a) By Default. When a defendant has failed to file an answer or reply within the time specified by Rule 6(b) of these rules, a default judgment may be rendered against him.
(b) Upon the Merits. Where the court has decided the case, it shall enter judgment in favor of the prevailing party for the relief to which the party is deemed entitled.
(c) Docket Entry. The court shall timely enter in the docket the date and amount of the judgment, whether rendered by default or upon the merits.
(d) Judgment Lien. A judgment entered by a district court in this state shall not become a lien against any real property unless a certified copy of such judgment, showing the name of the judgment debtor, the date and amount thereof, shall be filed in the office of the circuit clerk of the county in which such land is situated.

History

History. Amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005

(a) Time for Taking Appeal From District Court. All appeals in civil cases from district courts to circuit court must be filed in the office of the clerk of the particular circuit court having jurisdiction of the appeal within 30 days from the date of a docket entry awarding judgment regardless of whether a formal judgment is entered. The 30-day period is not extended by a motion for new trial, a motion to amend the court's findings of fact or to make additional findings, or any other motion to vacate, alter or amend the judgment.

(b) How Taken From District Court. A party may take an appeal from a district court by filing a certified copy of the district court’s docket sheet, which shows the awarding of judgment and all prior entries, with the clerk of the circuit court having jurisdiction over the matter. Neither a notice of appeal nor an order granting leave to appeal shall be required. The appealing party shall serve a copy of the certified docket sheet upon counsel for all other parties, and any party proceeding pro se, by any form of mail that requires a signed receipt.

(c) Procedure on Appeal From District Court.

(1) All the parties shall assert all their claims and defenses in circuit court. Within thirty days after a party perfects its appeal to circuit court by filing a certified copy of the district court docket sheet with the circuit clerk, the party who was the plaintiff in district court shall file a complaint and plead all its claims in circuit court. The party who was the defendant in district court shall file its answer, motions, and claims within the time and manner prescribed
by the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure. All the parties shall serve their pleadings and other papers on counsel for all opposing parties, and on any party proceeding pro se, by any form of mail which requires a signed receipt.

(2) At the time they file their complaint, answer, motions, and claims, the parties shall also file with the circuit clerk certified copies of any district court papers that they believe are material to the disputed issues in circuit court. Any party may also file certified copies of additional district court papers at any time during the proceeding as the need arises.

(3) As soon as practicable after the pleadings are closed, the circuit court shall establish a schedule for discovery, motions, and trial.

(4) Except as modified by the provisions of this rule, and except for the inapplicability of Rule of Civil Procedure 41, the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure shall govern all the circuit court proceedings on appeal of a district court judgment as if the case had been filed originally in circuit court.

(d) Supersedeas Bond on Appeal From District Court. Whenever an appellant entitled thereto desires a stay on appeal to circuit court in a civil case, he shall present to the district court for its approval a supersedeas bond which shall have such surety or sureties as the court requires. The bond shall be to the effect that appellant shall pay to appellee all costs and damages that shall be affirmed against appellant on appeal; or if appellant fails to prosecute the ppeal to a final conclusion, or if such appeal shall for any cause be dismissed, that appellant shall satisfy and perform the judgment, decree, or order of the inferior court. All proceedings in the district court shall be stayed from and after the date of the court's order approving the supersedeas bond.

(e) Special Provisions For Appeals From County Court to Circuit Court. Unless otherwise provided in this subdivision, the requirements of subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d) govern appeals from county court to circuit court. A party may take an appeal from the final judgment of a county court by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court having jurisdiction over the matter within thirty (30) days from the date that the county court filed its order with the county clerk. A certified copy of the county court’s final judgment must be attached to the notice of appeal. In the circuit-court proceeding, the party who was the petitioner or plaintiff in county court shall have all the obligations of the plaintiff in a case that has been appealed from district court to circuit court. If there were no defendants in the county-court proceeding, then the petitioner/plaintiff shall name all necessary, adverse parties as defendants in its complaint filed in circuit court.

(f) Administrative Appeals.

(1) If an applicable statute provides a method for filing an appeal from a final decision of any governmental body or agency and a method for preparing the record on appeal, then the statutory procedures shall apply.

(2) If no statute addresses how a party may take such an appeal or how the record shall be prepared, then the following procedures apply.

(A) Notice of Appeal. A party may appeal any final administrative decision by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court having jurisdiction of the matter within thirty (30) days from the date of that decision. The notice of appeal shall describe the final administrative decision being appealed and specify the date of that decision. The date of decision shall be either the date of the vote, if any, or the date that a written record of the vote is made. The
party shall serve the notice of appeal on all other parties, including the governmental body or agency, by serving any person described in Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(7), by any form of mail that requires a return receipt.

(B) The Record on Appeal. Within thirty (30) days after filing its notice of appeal, the party shall file certified copies of all the materials the party has or can obtain that document the administrative proceeding. Within thirty (30) days after these materials are filed, any opposing party may supplement the record with certified copies of any additional documents that it believes are necessary to complete the administrative record on appeal. At any time during the appeal, any party may supplement the record with a certified copy of any document from the administrative proceeding that is not in the record but the arty believes the circuit court needs to resolve the appeal.

(C) Procedure on Appeal. As soon as practicable after all the parties have made their initial filing of record materials, the court shall establish a schedule for briefing, hearings, and any other matters needed to resolve the appeal.

History. Amended May 26, 1987, effective July 1, 1987; amended November 18, 1996, effective March 1, 1997; amended January 22, 2004; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005. Revised October 9, 2008; effective January 1, 2009.

(a) Commencement of action — Form of claim and notice to defendant.

(1) Actions in the small claims division of district court shall be commenced whenever the claimant or the personal representative of a deceased claimant shall file with the clerk of the court a claim in substantially the following form:
In the District Court of______________________, State of Arkansas
Small Claims Division
______________________
Plaintiff
vs. No. _________

_______________________
Defendant
Defendant's Address:____________________________________

Nature of Claim:________________________________________

Nature and Amount of Relief Claimed:_______________________

Date Claim Arose:_______________________________________

Factual Basis of Claim:___________________________________

_______________________________
Signature of Plaintiff

_______________________________
Plaintiff's Address

SUMMONS AND NOTICE TO DEFENDANT

You are hereby warned to file a written answer with the clerk of this court within thirty (30) days after you receive this claim and forward a copy to the plaintiff at the address above or a default judgment may be entered against you.
________________________________ (Signature of Clerk or Judge)
________________________________ District Court Clerk
Address: ____________________________________________________________

RETURN OF SERVICE

STATE OF ARKANSAS
COUNTY OF ______________________

I, _______________________, certify that I served the within Claim Form on the defendant, _______________________, at _____ o'clock _____.m. on ________, 2_____, by____________________________
__________________________________________________ (Show manner of service)

______________________________
Name and Office, if any

Subscribed and sworn to before me this _____ day of______, 2_____, (To be completed if service by other than a Sheriff, Constable, or Clerk)

_______________________
Notary Public

My commission expires:_______________________

(2) Preparation, etc., of claim form. The plaintiff shall prepare the claim form as is set forth in this rule. The claim form shall be presented by the plaintiff in person. Upon receipt of the claim form and filing fee, the clerk shall file the claim form and proceed to assist the plaintiff in obtaining service on the defendant. In all cases, a copy of the answer in substantially the same form as set forth in this rule shall be included by the clerk with the claim form to be served on the defendant.

(3) Service of process.

(A) Unless service by the sheriff or other authorized person is requested by the plaintiff, the defendant shall be served by certified mail.

(B) The clerk shall enclose a copy of the claim form in an envelope addressed to the defendant at the address stated in the claim form, prepay the postage, the cost of which may be collected from the plaintiff at time of filing, and mail the envelope to the defendant by certified mail and request a return receipt from addressee only. The clerk shall attach to the original claim form the receipt for the certified letter and the return card thereon or other evidence of service of the claim form. No separate summons is required.

(C) Service hereunder shall be in accordance with Rule 4 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b) Answer by defendant. A defendant shall file an answer with the clerk of the court within thirty (30) days after the service of the claim form upon the defendant. The defendant shall mail a copy of the answer to the plaintiff.

(c) Form of answer - Affirmative relief. The defendant shall file with the clerk of the court his or her answer and assert any affirmative relief he or she may claim in substantially the following form:

In the District Court of ________________________

Small Claims Division

________________________________________

Plaintiff

vs. No. __________

________________________________________

Defendant

Defendant's Address: ________________________________________________________

Reason for Denial of Plaintiffs Claim: ______________________________________

Nature and Amount of Affirmative Relief (if any): ___________________________

________________________________________________________

Date Affirmative Claim Arose: _______________________________________________

Factual Basis of Affirmative Claim: _________________________________________

_________________________________________

_________________________________________
Signature of Defendant

(d) Taking of evidence - Third-party practice.
(1) The plaintiff and the defendant shall have the right to offer evidence in their behalf by witnesses appearing at the hearing or, with the permission of the court, at any other time.
(2) Actions in the small claims division of district court shall be tried informally before the court with relaxed rules of evidence.
(3) No depositions shall be taken and no interrogatories or other discovery proceedings shall be used in proceedings, except in the aid of execution.
(4) No new parties shall be brought into an action in the small claims division of district court, and no party shall be allowed to intervene.

(e) Judgments and orders - Awarding of costs - Appeals.
(1) The judge may give judgment and make such orders as to time of payment or otherwise as may be deemed by him or her to be right and just. However, judgments and orders shall be in writing and entered upon the official record in the same manner as other judgments and orders of the district court.
(2) No prejudgment attachment or prejudgment garnishment shall issue in any suit in the small claims division of district court.
(3) Proceedings to enforce or collect a judgment shall be in all respects as in other cases, except that security interests may be proved at the same time as the proof of the claim. The order of judgment may include an order of delivery directing the sheriff to deliver the property subject to the security interests to the plaintiff. If the court issues an order of delivery, no further action shall be necessary on the part of the plaintiff to obtain possession of the property.
(4) Except as otherwise ordered by the court, no execution or enforcement proceedings shall issue on any judgment until after the expiration of ten (10) days from the entry thereof.
(5) The prevailing party in an action in the small claims division of district court is entitled to costs of the action, including the costs of service and notice directing the appearance of the defendant and the costs of enforcing any judgment rendered in the action.
(6) Appeals may be taken from the judgment rendered in the small claims division of district court in the same manner as other civil appeals are taken from district courts.

(f) Restrictions on participation by attorneys. See Administrative Order Number 18.

History

History. Revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005; amended June 2, 2011, effective July 1, 2011.

All briefs, motions, pleadings, records, transcripts, and other papers required or authorized by these rules shall be on 81/2" by 11" paper.

History

History. Adopted May 15, 1989; revised December 9, 2004, effective January 1, 2005