Small claims court
The small claims court describes a special procedure that has been put in place to handle smaller claims. The idea of the procedure is that it is simple enough for members of the public to conduct their own cases without the assistance of a solicitor.
What is the process?
Small claims courts can be used where a claim is typically less than £5,000. Most consumer problems have a time limit of 6 years, although some claims have very short time limits so you must make sure that you take legal advice about your problem.
You will have to pay a Court fee, but the amount of this will vary depending on the amount in dispute.
If you are the Claimant then you will have to complete a Claim Form stating the Particulars of Claim and send it to court. The court will then send a copy of this to the Defendant.
If you are the Defendant, you will receive several documents from the court which include a copy of the Claim Form, the Particulars of Claim and a Response Pack. Using the Response Pack, you must either file an Acknowledgment of Service within 14 days of being served with the Particulars of Claim, followed by a Defence a further 14 days later. Alternatively, you must file a Defence 14 days after you receive the Particulars of Claim.
Should I consult a solicitor?
You should first consider consulting free organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau/Community Legal Advice, or the organisation that oversees complaints or disputes, for instance ABTA (for travel disputes) or The Financial Ombudsman (for banking or any other financial disputes).
The procedure is designed to be used without the need for a solicitor. If your claim is for £5,000 or less it may be that consulting and instructing a solicitor to run your claim may mean that your legal costs diminish your potential award and become disproportionate.
The best advice is to contact us directly to discuss your claim in detail and we can help advise you.