It's a simplified procedure used in the County
Court to deal with low value Claims. Prior to 1 April 2013 the financial limit
for the Small Claims Track was £5000. This has been increased to £10,000 for
Claims issued after 1 April 2013. Personal injury and housing disrepair Claims
will only be allocated to the Small Claims Track where they have a value of
less than £1000.
Making a Small Claim is a simple process and many Small Claims cases are heard within a few months of sending a claim form
to the court.
Small Claims cases are always dealt with in a
County Court. You can start your claim in any County Court, but the case is
likely to be transferred to the Defendant's local County Court.
Prior to issuing a Claim a letter before action
should be sent to the other side setting out the intention to pursue a Claim
against them. If no response is received to this letter then a Claim can be
issued. This is done by filling in a Claim Form, which sets out the basis of
the Claim. This is then sent to the Court and the Court will issue the Claim
and serve a copy on the Defendant.
The Defendant must return the Acknowledgement of
Service Form to the court stating his intentions within 14 days of the
effective date of service. If there is no reply within the time limit, then you
should ask the Court to enter judgment by default.
The Defendant will state in the Defence why your Claim is denied. If the Defendant only denies part of your claim (partial admission) you may be able to obtain judgment for the admitted sum. If all or some of the Claim cannot be agreed between the parties then the matter is likely to proceed to trial.
Once a Defence is received by the court a Directions Questionnaire is sent to you and the Defendant, which must be completed and returned by both parties within 14 days. The Court is then likely to list the matter for trial.
The parties in a Small Claim will normally be ordered to send to each other any documents upon which they intend to rely no less than 14 days before the trial date. It is common for these documents to include witness statements. The Judge will then read these documents prior to the trial.
In most cases it will strengthen your case if you are able to attend and provide evidence at the trial. The Court should be informed if you are unable to attend to give evidence at the trial.
All unpaid judgments are automatically registered at the Registry of County Court Judgments.
The debtor may agree to make payment and propose either payment in full of by instalments. You may agree a payment plan with the debtor or ask the court to make an instalment order. The debtor may also ask for an instalment order, and you may inquire about the debtor's assets to determine ability to pay.
There are also various ways of enforcing payment on a judgment including; warrant of execution, attachment of earnings, third party debt order, charging order and bankruptcy.
You are entitled to seek permission to appeal any decision made by the Judge at the trial. Any appeal must be made within 21 days of the Judge’s decision.
The Small Claims Track is governed by a “fixed costs regime” meaning the costs a successful Claimant is entitled to recover from the Defendant are limited. The Court may, on occasion, order further costs to be paid to the successful party where the losing party’s conduct is considered unreasonable.
The fixed costs regime means that the losing party will only pay fixed costs and disbursements to the successful party. The costs are fixed by law and the disbursements include any Court fees paid as well as witness travel expenses and loss of earnings. As mentioned above the Court may order further costs to be paid where the losing party has behaved unreasonably.