Small Claims Court
The small claims court is designed for anyone to be able to gain legal redress for smaller amounts of money. This is on the basis that the cases are likely to be easier and more straightforward than those with hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of pounds at stake. Small claims cases are limited to those where the payment sought is under £10,000.
Whilst these claims might be small compared to those that the court deals with on a daily basis, they are often not at all small for the people concerned. Large corporations might be able to accept the loss of £10,000, but most households would struggle to lose £1,000. We recognise the seriousness of these claims for you and your life, and we want to help. If you are considering making a claim through the small claims court, call us on 0121 565 4317 or claim online to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.
How Does The Small Claims Court Work?
The small claims court is much like any other court, in that you will be asked to submit the details of your claim and the evidence supporting your claim. This information will then be passed to the other party (the person you are making your claim against) and they will be allowed a period of time to reply, explaining their side of the story and providing their own evidence.
In many cases, it is possible to settle your claim before going to the small claims court. In others, the other side will accept that they are at fault as soon as they receive the court documents or will fail to reply to the documents, meaning that the court rules against them in default (this is where the court decides that, since they haven’t given any defence, there is no choice but to decide that they were at fault).
If the other side does contest your claim, offering an alternative explanation and counter evidence, you will have to go to court and put your case to a judge. Judges in the small claims court are very used to people representing themselves and will try to make sure that they understand both sides of the story before making their decision.
Once the judge at the small claims court has made a decision, that ruling is legally binding. This means that, if the judge orders the other person to pay the amount you have requested, they have to pay it. If they still do not pay, you are able to apply for the bailiffs to obtain the monies on your behalf, or to have it taken from their pay packet by their employer.
There is a fixed fee for making a claim through the small claims court, which depends on the amount you are claiming and whether you arrange your claim online or through the post. This sliding scale of fees makes sure that the costs of making a claim do not exceed the amount you hope to gain if you are successful.
What Kinds Of Claims Can I Make In The Small Claims Court?
You can make a small claims court claim for almost any case where someone else owes you money and you can prove it. There are a few exceptions, however. The small claims courts are not designed to deal with claims for the return of tenancy deposits (these are usually dealt with through the compulsory tenancy deposit schemes) or for personal injury claims, as these are often complex and are not easy to resolve in the way that other claims in the small claims court are.
The Majority Of The Claims In The Small Claims Courts Are For:
- Non-payment of bills. If you are a small business or sole trader, you may need to go to the small claims court to force clients or customers who have ignored your invoices and reminders to pay. In most cases, the other person will pay promptly, if their non payment has been due to a dispute as to whether the goods or services have been provided, they are more likely to dispute the claim, meaning that a district judge will need to make a decision.
- Breach of contract. This is where someone has not carried out tasks that they have agreed to in a contract (this can be an oral contract, but these are more difficult to prove) and you have suffered losses as a result. This can include if a company does not honour a warranty and refuses to fix a product you have purchased or if someone has promised to carry out a service and fails to do this.
There are also some kinds of claims that are not considered appropriate for the small claims court. These include if the organisation you are claiming against is the government. If you are unsure whether your claim is appropriate for making a small claims court claim, call us on 0121 565 4317 or claim online to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.
Can I Represent Myself I The Small Claims Court?
You are absolutely able to represent yourself in the small claims court, and the majority of people do so. The small claims court is set up with individuals in mind, meaning that the judge will attempt to ensure that you understand what is going on and will work to ensure that the judgement is fair.
Despite these attempts, the small claims court can still be difficult and complicated. You are able to request assistance from a solicitor to prepare your case or to represent you if you prefer. In some circumstances, the judge may decide to require the other party to pay your costs, but this is not guaranteed. In many cases you may decide that the cost of receiving legal support may be worth it for the increased likelihood of winning your small claims court case.
The main reasons that clients choose to request assistance with their small claims court claim include:
- Feeling uncertain that you are able to make your case effectively. Although the small claims court is designed to be approachable, it is still a legal process and it is important that your small claims court claim is supported by the correct legal arguments. This can feel difficult if you do not have legal training, so it can be useful to ask for assistance if you need it.
- Making sure that your claim is for the right amount. Although you are likely to have a good idea as to how much money you are owed, there may be legal reasons that this amount may be less than you expect. Alternatively, you may be so focused on one aspect of your claim that you are unaware that you may be able to claim for additional expenses or costs associated with your claim. Under either of these circumstances, you may want some additional advice as to how much you should be claiming for.
- Being worried about speaking in court. For many people, the idea of speaking in court can be deeply worrying. If you feel that your nerves might get in the way of you explaining your position, it might be worth arranging for a solicitor or barrister to help you with this.
- If your case is particularly complex, it might be useful to discuss the situation with a solicitor to ensure that you have all of the facts clear in your mind. This can allow you to highlight the most important areas and to put forward the best possible case.
- To avoid the stress and sorry involved in making your claim. Any form of legal action can be stressful. Sometimes, the relief of having someone else taking over the administration of your claim is enough of a benefit in and of itself. If your small claims court claim is causing you significant emotional stress and difficulty, call us on 0121 565 4317 or claim online to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.
How Much Am I Likely To Receive From The Small Claims Court?
The amount that you receive from your small claims court claim will depend on how much you have claimed for and how well supported your claim is by evidence. Even if the judge does agree that you have the stronger case, you might not receive the full amount that you are claiming for. If the judge feels that you have not fully supported your case, they may decide that you should only receive a portion of the amount that you have claimed. The amount that you receive may also be reduced if the judge feels that you have not made sufficient efforts to resolve the situation yourself without going to the courts, such as through requesting payment enough times or accepting mediation.
In some cases, the judge may choose to award you costs as well. This means that the other side would have to pay the expenses you have had associated with making your small claims court claim, including the court fees, solicitor’s fees and any reports you may have had to pay for.
At Claim Justice, we want to be sure that you have access to affordable advice when you need it. If you are considering making a claim through the small claims court, call us on 0121 565 4317 or claim online to arrange your free, no obligation consultation. We will listen to your claim and give you honest, unbiased advice. If we believe that we can help you with your small claims court claim, we will explain our fee structure and ensure that we give you the best possible value for money.