What is a claim form?
A claim form is the document that must be completed by a claimant when they commence civil proceedings in the County Court or High Court. Normally, standard claim form N1 must be used – a copy of form N1 can be obtained from the Court or found on the judiciary’s website (and elsewhere on the internet).
How do I complete form N1?
At the top of the form, the name of the Court location in which the proceedings are to be commenced should be stated. This will be in one of the County Court locations or a district registry of the High Court (or the High Court in London), depending on the type and value of the claim.
Most claims are made in the County Court. A claim should not be started in the High Court unless the value of the claim is more than £25,000, or in the case of a personal injury claim valued at £50,000 or more. The type of claim may also determine where the proceedings should be commenced, for example, a defamation claim can only be commenced in the High Court unless the parties have agreed otherwise in writing.
The claim number and date of issue will be filled in by the Court when it issues the proceedings.
Names of the parties
The ‘claimant’ is the person bringing the claim against the ‘defendant’ and their names should be stated in full (including titles). Where one of the parties is an individual carrying on business in a name other than their own name, their trading names should also be stated.
If partners are being sued in the name of a partnership (other than a limited liability partnership), the full name of the partnership should be stated and followed by ‘a firm’. Where partners are sued as individuals, state the full name and title of each partner.
If the claimant is claiming in a representative capacity or the defendant is sued in a representative capacity, it is necessary to state their capacity, for instance, ‘as attorney for…’.
In the case of companies, corporations and limited liability partnerships the full name including any suffix (for example,‘plc’) should be stated.
The full addresses of each party should be included.
Brief details of the claim
A concise statement setting out the nature of the claim should be provided, specifying the remedy sought. If the claimant is only claiming a specified sum, and interest is claimed, this should be stated.
If the claim is for money, the value of the claim is the amount claimed – not including any interest or legal costs.
Where a fixed sum of money is claimed, this figure should be stated. Where the claim is not for a specific amount, the claimant should give the court an idea of what they expect to recover, for instance, ‘not more than £5,000’; or ‘more than £5,000 but not more than £25,000’; or ‘more than £25,000’. If appropriate, the claimant can state something like ‘I cannot say how much I will recover’.
In personal injury claims and housing disrepair cases, the claimant needs to state very simply what the claim is asking for compensation for, and an estimate of how much is expected to be recovered.
Defendant’s name and address
The defendant’s name and address for the purposes of service of proceedings must be stated. This may not be the same address as that set out above. For example, service may be intended to take place on the defendant’s solicitors.
Amount and costs claimed
The ‘amount claimed’ must be set out at the bottom right hand side of the first page of form N1 as indicated. The ‘amount claimed’ is the principal sum claimed and any interest. If the amount claimed is not a fixed amount, ‘damages to be assessed’ should be entered.
Any fees and costs also claimed must be included. This includes the Court fee which the claimant must pay on commencement of proceedings. If the claimant is successful, the defendant will normally be ordered to pay the amount of the Court fee back to the claimant.
Where proceedings are commenced by solicitors, the claimant can claim at least some of those legal costs back as ‘fixed costs’ if successful. The amount of fixed costs that can be claimed depends on the value of the claim.
Human rights issues
The claimant is required to confirm, by ticking the appropriate box on form N1, whether the claim includes any issues under the Human Rights Act 1998. Unless you are seeking damages for a breach of your human rights, the answer will be ‘no’.
The particulars of claim
The particulars of claim is an important part of the form N1, and should include a concise statement of the facts on which the claimant relies. The particulars of claim can be set out on form N1 itself or in a separate document (which must include the title of the proceedings, name of the Court, the claim number and the names of the parties).
If the claimant seeks aggravated, exemplary or provisional damages this should be stated, and why.
Any interest claimed must be stated, together with the basis on which interest is claimed. If the claim is for a specific amount of money the percentage rate at which interest is claimed should be stated, and the period for which it is claimed. The total amount of interest claimed to the date of calculation should be stated, along with the daily rate at which interest accrues after that date.
Note that specific rules apply to certain types of claim including defamation, possession claims, personal injury and fatal accident claims, hire-purchase claims and probate claims. You should take specialist legal advice particularly if your case falls within any of these categories.
The statement of truth
The claimant (or their solicitor) is required to sign the ‘statement of truth’ confirming that the facts stated in the particulars of claim are true. If someone is signing on behalf of the claimant, or a firm or company, their position or office must be stated.
Address for service
The claimant must provide an address for service and receipt of payments. This may be the address of the claimant, or their solicitor. The address must include the postcode, unless the Court otherwise orders, and be within the UK. If the claimant does not reside or carry on business in the UK and is not legally represented, the claimant must give another address for service within the UK.