One thing that I’ve noticed time and time again in my practice is that clients are not always aware that they may need to appear in court at some point if they choose to take legal action against a debtor. In Pennsylvania, if the matter is not settled or if judgment is not obtained prior, it will go to either arbitration or trial. The factor that determines which type of hearing you will have is the amount for which you are suing. If that amount is over a certain limit (usually $25,000.00 or $50,000.00 depending upon the county) your case will go to trial and if it is below a certain amount it will go to arbitration. The arbitration that I refer to, however, is through the Court of Common Pleas and is not affiliated with the American Arbitration Association. It operates much like a trial except for the fact that your case is presented to a panel of three attorneys as opposed to a Judge. What many creditors do not realize is that regardless of whether the matter will first be scheduled for arbitration or trial, a witness must physically appear at the hearing to testify on behalf of the Plaintiff. I have been asked many times whether the witness may ‘appear’ by telephone. This has never been allowed in Pennsylvania Courts and it is expected that if you file suit in Pennsylvania you, or a credible individual with first-hand knowledge of the matter, are able and willing to appear in Pennsylvania Courts in regards to that suit. Although many cases come to an end through either settlement or judgment, by default or otherwise, long before trial or arbitration is scheduled , one must always prepare for a potentially lengthy litigation. Therefore, I would urge anyone considering filing suit in Pennsylvania to first ask themselves whether they will be able to travel to the county in which the suit is filed for one or more hearings. If the answer is ‘no,’ such action should be reconsidered so as not to spend even more money chasing a debtor who has already caused you a loss.