The Preliminary Stages of a Civil Claim: From Commencement to Service of the Defence

Which Court?

Generally a claim worth less than £25,000, or in the case of a personal injury claim, a claim worth less than £50,000 is handled by the County Court. The High Court generally handles claims above these amounts.  

In most cases it is open to the Claimant to commence their claim in the County or High Court of their convenience.

The Preliminary Steps

A claim is started by the Claimant (the person, business or organisation bring the claim) sending or delivering to the Court a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim together with payment of the Court fee which is payable upon the issuing of proceedings.

The Claim Form is a standard document which contains details of the parties and describes very briefly the nature of the claim. A Claim Form can be obtained from the Court office or found on the Court Service’s website.

The Particulars of Claim set out in more detail what the claim is about. In straight forward cases there will be sufficient room on the reverse of the Claim Form to include the Particulars of Claim. In more complex cases a separate document is needed which should be headed with the name of the Court where the claim is to commence, the names of the parties and marked Particulars of Claim.

The Court will usually require 3 copies of the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim (1 for the Claimant, 1 for the Court and 1 for the Defendant). If there is more than 1 Claimant or Defendant (the person, business or organisation against whom the claim is made) an additional copy for each additional party will be required. 

The amount of the Court fee payable will depend upon the nature and, if the claim is for money, the value of the claim. Information as to Court fees can be obtained from the Court office or found on the Court Service’s website.

Issue and Service of the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim

Once the Court has received the Claim Form, Particulars of Claim and payment of the Court fee it will issue (stamp) the documents and in most cases, serve the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim on the Defendant.

The Claimant can serve the documents themselves although in practice most Claimants let the Court serve the documents.

The Court will serve the documents on the Defendant simply 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 they need to do next and contains forms for them to fill in.

Notice of Issue

Where the Court serves the documents on the Defendant it will send to the Claimant a Notice of Issue. This is a document which confirms that the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim have been issued and served on the Defendant.

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For more information on:

  • The Defendant’s Response
  • Filing an Admission
  • Filing a Defence
  • Filing an Acknowledgment of Service
  • Failure to Respond