An overview of the court process for debt recovery claims

Commencement of the claim

A claim is started by the Claimant (the party bringing the claim) sending or delivering to the Court a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim together with payment of the Court fee.

The Claim Form is a standard document which contains details of the parties and briefly describes the nature of the claim. The Particulars of Claim set out in more detail what the claim is about.

Claims worth less than £25,000 should normally be commenced in the County Court and claims of £25,000 or above should normally be commenced in the High Court.

Once the Court has received the Claim Form, Particulars of Claim and payment of the Court fee it will “issue” (stamp) the documents.

The Court will normally serve the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim on the Defendant (the party against whom the claim is brought) by sending them by first class post. At the same time the Court will send the Defendant a Response Pack. The Response Pack explains to the Defendant what it needs to do next and contains various forms for it to fill in.

If the Court serves the documents on the Defendant it will send to the Claimant a Notice of Issue confirming that the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim have been issued and served on the Defendant and specifying the date upon which the Defendant is required to respond.

The Defendant’s response

The Defendant has 14 days from the date of “deemed service” (in the case of service by first class post the date of deemed service will be the second business day after the documents were posted) to respond to the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim.

The Defendant can respond in one of the following ways:

By filing an Admission

If the Defendant does not dispute the claim it should complete and send to the Court a form called an Admission. If an Admission is filed the Claimant can ask the Court to enter judgment.

By filing a Defence

If the Defendant disputes the claim it should send to the Court and the Claimant a Defence. A Defence sets out in detail the reasons why the Defendant disputes the claim.

If the Defendant wishes to bring a Counterclaim against the Claimant it should serve its Counterclaim at the same time as it serves its Defence.

By filing an Acknowledgment of Service

An Acknowledgment of Service is a form in which the Defendant indicates its intention to defend all or part of the claim. If the Defendant files an Acknowledgment of Service it will have an additional 14 days in which to file a Defence.

Failure by the Defendant to respond

If the Defendant fails to respond to the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim the Claimant can file a Request for Judgment in Default with the Court.

Allocation of the claim where a Defence is served

If the Defendant serves a Defence the Court will normally make an Order requiring the parties to file Allocation Questionnaires by a date specified in the Order.

The purpose of the Allocation Questionnaire is to enable the Court to gain a better understanding of the case to enable it to ensure that the case is dealt with in an effective manner and to ensure that the appropriate level of Court resources are given to the case.

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For more information on:

  • Directions
  • The final hearing or trial