A Small Claims Court is a court set up to deal quickly with claims for small amounts of money. If you are suing someone or they are suing you for a small amount of money this is where you may end up. The Small Claims Courts can be found in your local County Court.
If someone owes you money or you have bought faulty goods and you are unable to settle the matter in any other way, you may decide to issue a claim through the courts.
The small claims court is less formal than other court procedures and you do not need a solicitor.
You can issue claims for a variety of reasons, including, bad workmanship, damage to property, road traffic accidents, goods ordered and paid for but not supplied and personal injury. The county court in England and the sheriff court in Scotland deals with these types of claims, referred to as “small claims" or “small claims court".
The system for handling small claims is designed to be quick, cheap and easy to use and you do not need to use a solicitor, although you can do so if you wish. It will usually only apply to claims for £5,000 or less (or £1,000 or less if the claim is for personal injury or housing disrepair), against a person, firm or company in England and Wales , and claims for £750 or less against a person, firm or company in Scotland .
If the amount of money claimed is £5,000 or less then it is likely to be heard in the Small Claims Court.
However, if your claim is for personal injury it will only be heard in the Small Claims Court if the claim for the injury itself is not more than £1,000.
For housing cases involving a landlord's failure to repair the property the claim will be heard in the small claims court if the cost of repairs or the compensation claimed is not more than £1,000.
Cases are dealt with differently in the Small Claims Court. It is supposed to be much simpler so that anyone can deal with their own case from start to finish without using a solicitor.
Ask your local County Court for a document known as a “Claims Form", you will need to complete this with details of what you are claiming and against whom.
You may also have to pay a court fee. This will depend upon how much you are claiming. You can claim this fee back from your opponent, if you win your case. (This is known as Fixed Costs).
If you start the claim you will be called the “Claimant" and your opponent will be called the “Defendant".
The procedure starts with the claimant filling out a standard form, which sets out details about the claim and the various parties. This is returned to the Court office with the appropriate fee.
A summons is then sent out to the Defendant who may choose to pay up in full. However, they also have the option to admit part of the claim and pay that part or request to pay by instalments, or may also dispute the claim in its entirety.
Cases are usually heard by a District Judge. However, if the case is complex it can be referred to a higher judge known as a Circuit Judge.
If any part of the claim is disputed, the matter goes to a Court hearing where the evidence is heard in informal surroundings, usually around the table in the judge's chambers.
Judges tend to be very patient with lay claimants, who will be nervous and unaccustomed to court procedures. However, interruptions, verbal abuse and unreasonable behaviour will be frowned upon.
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John Mussi is the founder of Direct Online Loans who help UK homeowners find the best available loans via the http://www.directonlineloans.co.uk website.