SMALL CLAIMS COURT
You may well have heard people talk about the Small Claims Court, but what is it, what does it do and how do you use it?
What is being referred to is the Small Claims Track within the Civil Courts. If you have a claim against a person or company for something they have or have not done, then you will usually be making a claim for money. Since April 2013, any claim for an amount up to £10,000 can be dealt with at the Small Claims Court.
Starting a Claim
A good example of where you would make a claim under the Small Claims Track, is where someone owes you money for work that you completed. This would generally mean that a contractual arrangement exists between both of you (the parties to the case). Let’s say you had an agreement with a customer to install a new kitchen and once it was completed the customer refuses to pay you.
How much can you claim
Provided the amount you are claiming is less than £10,000 you can issue a County Court Summons or “Claim” against the compay or person owing you money. They will be refered to as the Defendant. The claim is submitted to the court either online or by using a prescribed form.
How it works
Once you have submitted the claim to the court, the court will issue a formal notice to the defendant. From there the defendant will receive a notice that you are making a claim against them. The defendant then has 14 days to reply to the court. They can admit the claim, admit some of the claim, make a counterclaim or completely ignore it. If they admit they owe the money, they should then pay it. If they don’t pay an application can be made to the court so that the payment can be enforced. Should it still not be paid, enforcement action may be needed. Some times an application can be sent to the High Court for enforcement and if granted a High Court Enforcment Officer can atempt to recover the money for you. Have you see the BBC show, “The Sheriffs Are Coming”? If so then you know what they do.
A defended claim
If the defendant chooses to defend the claim, by saying they don’t owe the money for whatever reason, they you can try mediation to settle the dispute or the court may ask for more information. You may then need to attend a hearing at the local County Court.
If you do need to attend court, you may want to represent yourself or you may want a professional to represent you. Either way, it is important to understand what the main points of your case are and to be able to demonstrate that your evidence is persuasive. The defendant will also have the opportunity to put their case to the judge. Once the judge has heard each side’s argument, they will come to a decision about the claim.
If you win
Assuming the judge decides in your favour, then the defendant will be ordered to pay the amount claimed, and you should also be able to claim the costs of the court fees and interest at a prescribed rate. (At the time of writing this was 8% PA).
Challenging the outcome
If the defendant decides to challenge the outcome, they can do this by Appealing the decision, they have a limited time in which to do so.
Getting your money
Should the defendant (now a debtor) still not pay, then enforcement action can be taken to recover the monies owed to you. There are various ways this can be done. These can include, sending Bailiffs, Money Deduction Orders, the Freezing of the defendant’s assets or even taking a charge against the debtor’s land or property.
Helping Local Business
Athenys recently helped a local Garage owner in the Bournemouth County Court, Small Claims Track. Our client had been already been quoted over £1,000 just to look at the case by a local Solicitor firm, before coming to see us. We analysed the case and could see no valid claim against our client. We, therefore, advised that the case should be defended.
With our help in preparing some documentation for the court and our assistance at the court hearing, our client successfully defended the case. We also persuaded the judge to award costs against the claimant, which is quite unusual in the Small Claims Court.
Do you need our help?
If you wish to make or defend a claim in the Small Claims Court, but need some straightforward advice, then give us a call. We will provide a free initial consultation and a highly competitive hourly rate or a fixed fee agreement.
Atheneys Law & Finance, there when you need us the most!