It is a general rule that corporate entities cannot represent themselves in court, but must hire an attorney. Colorado has a limited exception to this rule (C.R.S. § 13-1-127(2)) that allows non-attorney officers of closely held entities to represent their company, in court, for matters that do not exceed $10,000. This allows small companies to handle relatively small disputes for which it often does not make economic sense to have an attorney enter an appearance. These can include minor disputes between a landlord and a tenant, breach of contract claims, failure to pay for goods, and other similar matters. Given the amounts at issue, in many cases, it can cost more for an attorney to deal with the problem than to simply accept the loss. Even $10,000 is a small amount considering that attorneys’ fees and costs can quickly rise into the tens of thousands of dollars as a case begins to go through discovery and motions practice.
To address this problem, the Colorado House of Representatives recently passed a bi-partisan bill (HB-13-1052) that would increase the threshold amount in C.R.S. § 13-1-127(2), for the first time since 1991, from $10,000 to $15,000. This would be a positive, albeit small, change that would recognize how the increased costs of litigation make it difficult for small companies to protect their interests within the court system. The bill is currently before the Colorado Senate and was recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to be placed on the Senate calendar for a vote.
Photo: Josh May (flickr)