by Rabbi Yehonoson Dovid Hool
I have a dispute with Orange cellular phone Company. I want to go to the small claims court. I want to know if I have to take them to beis din 1st? I was verbally told that calls to a specific number were free, by an Orange Employee. I signed an electronic sign pad connected to a computer, and never saw nor got any contract. I made lots of calls to this number based on what I was told and I got a bill for close to $300 for calling the number. I told them of the error and they would not speak to me. I requested to go to court and they agreed. Later I got a lawyer’s letter I did not read demanding close to $800. A month later they put liens on my property and got the courts to ratify taking over $1000 from my account. I was told the only recourse is maybe through the small claims court. Do I have to go to Beis Din 1st & who do I file against?
Normally one may not go to Court unless one has first summoned the defendant to a Beis Din and he has refused to some.
However, if someone claims against you in a Court you may certainly go to court to defend yourself.
Furthermore, with public companies such as Orange there is virtually no chance that they will agree to an arbitration in Beis Din; indeed more often than not the company rules do not permit such a procedure without the approval of the board of directors. In such circumstances there is no need to apply for permission from Beis Din, and you may go straight to court.
Rav Moshe Shternbuch suggests that just in case, you add to your claim in Court a clause to the effect that “As far as I am concerned I would prefer arbitration in Beis Din.”