Money Claim Online (MCOL) is a government service for claimants and defendants. MCOL is a simple, convenient and secure way of making or responding to a money claim online. It also allows you to watch the progress of the claim or judgment.
What factors should I consider before using MCOL?
Always think about alternative ways to settle your dispute before making a formal claim. There are various forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which you should consider to settle your dispute. ADR is the collective term for different ways in which the parties can settle civil disputes without going to court, or proceeding to trial.
ADR includes arbitration, expert determination, ombudsmen and the regulators. ADR also includes mediation and conciliation. The type of ADR best suited to your needs depends on the type of dispute.
You also need to consider whether the debtor will be able to pay the debt if you successfully make a claim. If they are unemployed or bankrupt; or if their company has been wound up, or they have no money, personal property or anything else of value; of if they have secured debtors – it is probably unlikely you will recover any monies owed to you. Therefore, it may be uneconomical for you to issue a claim using MCOL.
If you do decide to issue a claim via MCOL, you must write a letter before action to the defendant in compliance with ‘pre-action protocols’. You must state the amount owed and what it is for. You must also warn that you will consider issuing a County Court Claim if they do not pay within a reasonable period, such as 21 days.
Am I eligible to issue a claim?
To be eligible to issue a claim, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- You have access to the internet
- You have a claim for a fixed amount of money which is less than £100,000
- There are no more than two defendants
- All the parties have an address in England or Wales where all the documents can be delivered to/served on (even if you live outside of the UK)
- You have an e-mail address
- The claimant is not a child or protected party or funded by the Legal Services Commission.
- The defendant is not the Crown or a person known to be a child or protected party
If the claim does not meet each of the above requirements, you cannot use the MCOL service and you should seek legal advice.
How do I issue a claim?
To make a claim, you must first register for an account with the UK Government Gateway. You will need to complete and send an online Claim Form, and pay the appropriate issue fee online.
Detailed particulars of claim (restricted to a certain number of lines and characters) must be either included in the online claim form itself, or served and filed by you separately from the claim form. However, you must state that detailed particulars of claim will follow, and include a brief summary of the claim in the online claim form. The particulars must be true and accurate.
Once you have completed the Claim Form and paid the fee, the MCOL will allocate a claim number. This claim number will be the reference used by all parties in all correspondence between themselves and the court.
When the court issues a claim form, it will serve a printed version of the claim form on the defendant, sending you (the claimant) a notice of issue. The Claim Form will be deemed to be served on the 5th day after the claim was issued.
What fees are payable?
You must pay a County Court fee when issuing a claim. The fees are on a sliding scale, from £25 for a claim of £300, to 4.5% of the value of a claim of £10,001 to £99,999. This is paid by debit or credit card online.
The Proceedings Fees Order 2008 provides that in certain circumstances a party may be entitled to a remission or part remission of a fee. HM Courts and Tribunals Service website contains guidance with regard to the eligibility for this remission. A claimant who wishes to apply for a remission or part remission must file the Claim Form at their local court office and not via MCOL.
Service of the claim form
MCOL will submit your claim to the County Court Business Centre to be issued. Once issued, a copy of the Claim Form and a Response Pack will be sent to the Defendant. The pack comprises an acknowledgement of service, a Defence for and an Admission form. The claim must be served on the Defendant within 4 months of the date of issue. If you wish to extend the time for service, you must make an application to the court before expiry of the 4-month period.
What must the defendant then do?
Once the defendant has received the claim, they may respond online or by post. They must file an acknowledgement of service and either:
- Pay the claim in full
- File a full or part admission – and pay up
- Defend the claim, or
- Make a counterclaim
If the Defendant does not admit the whole claim they should file a response to the claim within 14 days of service of the claim.
It is important to understand that the onus is on you as the claimant to advise the court how you wish to proceed once the defendant has filed a response – or their time to file a response has expired. If you don’t, your claim will be stayed.
What happens if a defence is filed?
If the defendant disputes the claim, they must file their defence within 14 days. However, filing an Acknowledgement of Service extends the time for filing a defence by a further 14 days. They must state which parts of the claim are denied, and their reasons. If an element of the claim is ignored and the defendant fails to deny it, they may be taken to admit liability.
The matter will then be transferred to the defendant’s home court (where the defendant is not an individual, it will be transferred to you or your representative’s local court), and MCOL will send you a Notice of Transfer and an Allocation Questionnaire. The Allocation Questionnaire will assist the judge in deciding how and where the matter should then proceed.
What happens if the defendant admits the claim?
If the defendant admits liability (or if they have failed to respond within the time allowed), you can request judgment in your favour via the MCOL website.