What is a small claim?
A small claim is generally a claim for the value of £5,000.00 or less however with certain claims such as those relating to personal injury a small claim is for the value of £1,000.00 or less.
Commonly, types of small claim include:
Recovering monies for unpaid invoices;
Compensation for faulty work or services carried out or provided by builders, mechanics, gardeners, decorators etc.;
Compensation for faulty goods;
Landlord and tenant disputes;
Parking tickets issued in error.
A small claim must be made within certain time limits although the time limit depends on the claim. Usually a small claim in made for breach of contract which means which means the agreement you have with someone has been has not been followed correctly or has been broken. The time limit for these types of claims is 6 years from the date which the agreement was broken.
When can I make a small claim?
Attempts should be made to resolve the matter before making small claim at Court and you should consider if you have any option open to you which would means avoiding Court action.
You should also warn the person that you are going to take Court action and make a small claim by sending them what is known as a letter before action. This letter should set out why you have a claim, how your claim is calculated, give a deadline to pay and explain that failure to pay will result in a claim being made against them.
You should also consult the Civil Procedure Rules and the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct for further information. These can be found at www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/courts-and-tribunals/courts/procedure-rules/civil/index.htm
If you are unable to settle the matter then you should make a claim at Court.
How do I make a claim?
You will need to complete an N1 claim form. This can be obtained from your local or from www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n1_0102.pdf Please find a copy of the form attached.
The Claimant is the person making the claim and the Defendant is the person who the claim is being made against. In the section named ‘particulars of claim’ you should give full details of your claim and the circumstances in which your claim arose, attach a further sheet of paper if you do not have enough space on the form itself. If you are entitled to claim for any interest then this should be mentioned also in the claim form.
You may alternatively wish to make a claim online via www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.
Once you have completed the claim form you should send at least 2 copies of the form to your local County Court and keep a copy for yourself. This is known as issuing your claim. You will also need to send a cheque for the Court fee. The Court fee is dependant on the value of your claim and currently the Court fees are as follows:
|Claim Amount||Court Issue fee||Online Issue fee|
|Up to £300||£35.00||£25.00|
|£300.01 to £500.00||£50.00||£35.00|
|£500.01 to £1,000.00||£70.00||£60.00|
|£1,000.01 to £1,500.00||£80.00||£70.00|
|£1,500.01 to £3,000.00||£95.00||£80.00|
|£3,000.01 to £5,000.00||£120.00||£100.00|
The fees may be reduced or you may be exempt from paying if you are in receipt of benefits or if your income is low.
The court will then acknowledge your claim by stamping your claim form and providing you with a claim number. The claim will then be served on the Defendant which means sending a copy to the Defendant. The Defendant will then have 14 days to respond to the claim and a total of 28 days to defend the claim.
What happens next?
If the claim is paid then the matter is settled. However if the claim is defended then the Court may ask you to complete further tasks for example you may be asked to:
- Complete and allocation questionnaire which helps the Court deal and manage the claim;
- Send copies of documents which you intend to rely on for example any witness statements you may have, copies of agreements, copies of invoices etc.;
A hearing date will then be set by the Court and during the hearing your claim will be discussed and the Judge will make a decision.
Will I need representation?
The small claims procedure has been designed in such a way to allow people to represent themselves and Judges have experience of this. The process is straightforward and your local County Court can often help via telephone should you have a query.
We can assist however it may more economically viable for you to represent yourself. Alternatively you may wish to instruct us to send a letter before action on your behalf.
Questions to ask yourself before claiming
- Does the Defendant have enough money to pay the value of the claim?
This is important because even if the Judge decides in your favour this does not necessarily mean the Defendant will pay. You may have to ask the Court for an enforcement order at your own expense.
- Are you able to pay the Court fees?
- Have you used all other methods trying to settle the matter?
- Have you sent a letter before action?
If you can answer yes to all of the above then you should proceed with making a claim.