In England and Wales, civil disputes for claims of £10,000 or less (excluding personal injury claims) are usually brought in the small claims court. Small claims are dealt with in the County Court and heard by a District Judge. The rules and procedures for small claims are designed to be less formal and more accessible for litigants in person. This means that individuals and businesses can make a small claim themselves without the need for costly legal representation. This is important because when making a small claim you are unlikely to be able to recover your legal costs, regardless of whether you win or lose. However, you will be able to recover court fees, reasonable travel expenses and limited fees for attendance at the final hearing.
Common types of claim brought using the small claims court are:
- Faulty services (eg. by builders or mechanics);
- Faulty goods (eg. computers, televisions or washing machines);
- Claims for unpaid invoices;
- Claims for road traffic accidents and car hire charges.
Before you consider making a small claim, you must try to settle your claim, otherwise the court may penalise you. If your attempts are not successful, and you do decide to bring a claim, you must follow the court rules, known as the Civil Procedure Rules (‘CPR’), which explain what you must do and when. The first step in bringing a small claim is to submit a claim form (N1) and pay the court fee. The fee is cheaper online rather than using a paper form. Clear guidance regarding all the relevant steps can be found here.
If you need assistance with evaluating the strength of your claim, weighing up your options or navigating the court process, Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ Litigation team is ready help you.