People often talk about “the small claims court.” In legal terms, there isn’t a place called the small claims court. The more accurate term is a small claims track in the civil courts.
Up until April 2013, the maximum amount that could be made through a small claim was £5000. This was recently increased to £10,000 with talk of an increase up to £15,000. It is worth knowing how this process works in order to give yourself the best chance of a positive verdict.
What is it?
For the most part, a small claim in court will refer to a sum of money owed, usually a debt or a building dispute (Please note this does not cover personal injury, employment, insolvency or property possession cases).
The differences between small and other legal claims are that the parties are usually not able to recover most legal costs, less involvement before the case goes to trial (aside from requesting documents) and the process tends to be less formal than a higher value claim.
In a claim, the person issuing is the claimant, and the person responding is the defendant. The process starts with the claimant issuing a claim form, including the particulars of the claim (a summary, the sum requested by the claimant and how the amount was calculated). The claimant also has to pay a fee, while case management directions give details on the case in order to get it to trial.
The defendant has to respond by giving their defence within 14 days. A witness statement will also be given, alongside a statement of truth to assert what they are saying is true (a false statement is considered a criminal offence).
Generally speaking, these cases tend to be resolved quicker than higher claims, as there tend to be less aspects to be resolved. It may sound obvious, but it is recommended you attend in person, as there have been occasions whether the other party has not attended and this can massively increase your chances of a positive verdict.
Before a case goes to the court, both sides are encouraged to seek mediation, usually a free service provided. The mediator doesn’t need to sign a settlement but encourages both sides to come to an agreement outside of the court environment.
Before you make a claim, it is recommended you talk to a legal advisor. They can look over your case and can advise you on the likelihood of a positive verdict (though they cannot guarantee you a positive verdict). This can then allow you to decide whether or not you want to take the case any further.
We can help
While it may be referred to as the “small claim court,” we know that for the people involved it can mean a lot of money and the future of your business could depend on it. This is why we always work closely with our clients. For more information or to talk to a legal specialist, please contact us today.