As the name suggests a small claims case is a relatively small claim against a business or individual. This can include a personal injury or a dispute with a landlord (less than £1000) or compensation for faulty goods, services or wages or money owed (usually £10,000 or less). In this article, we are going to look at the small claims process and what you should know before making a case.
The first thing to do is to talk to someone – in our case we offer initial consultations so that we can talk to our clients about their claim. In some cases, if it is particularly complex it may go beyond the small claims court regardless of whether or not it involves money below the typical threshold for this kind of case.
Try to settle
Another crucial aspect is to demonstrate that you have tried to settle with the other side, as if you don’t do this then you could potentially be penalised for it. A lot of companies will want to avoid court action so will often push for mediation in order to come to an agreement that works for both sides.
File a claim
Filing a claim is the relatively simple part, you need to download a form, fill in the details (you can include more pages for more details). If the amount is fixed then it may be possible to process through the website (this will include paying fees to complete the process).
You need to send two copies to the court and should keep one for yourself and in some cases the fee can be reduced or waived so you should check this before filing. You will then receive a notice of issue with a number confirming this has been processed.
Cases are usually heard in public but if both sides agree a hearing can be heard in public. They tend to be informal with a Judge deciding who asks questions first and how long both sides have to present their evidence. Often the verdict will be on the day with the Judge explaining why but sometimes it may be in writing or presented at a later hearing.
After this the defendant may accept the claim and pay up or may suggest a period of repayment if they are unable to do so upfront. If you are not satisfied with this you can raise objections on this as well.
If the defendant disagrees they have to raise their objections and prepare their case within 14 days.
Once you are given a date you should inform the court if you can’t attend. However, it can’t be emphasised enough that being present and having the information and evidence to make a case will give you the strongest chance of a positive verdict.
There are only grounds for appeal if you feel a mistake was made or there were irregularities during the hearing. If a defendant does not pay when found guilty you can pay a fee to have the judgement enforced.
For more information or to discuss a small claim contact Larcomes today where we will be happy to go over your case in more detail.