What are the problems associated with making a small claim?
Often there is a large amount of money and time spent on the administration for small claims throughout the UK. In many cases this will act as a deterrent when an individual wishes to make a claim for a small amount.
For example, if you are renting a property often you will be required to provide a bond before you move in to pay for any damages which you may have caused during the tenancy. In many cases the tenants often become involved with a dispute with the landlord when the landlord subtracts sums which the tenant believes to be unnecessary or unreasonable considering the damage which has been caused. However, many people will simply accept this loss as the money involved in taking the issue to a small claims court is often disproportionate to the money which may be won on a successful outcome.
Even if a claim is brought by one party the other party may view the time and money required to be spent in defending the claim in court is simply not worth the hassle so they will simply settle with the claimant or the claimant will automatically receive a court order in their favour.
In certain cases a claim may collapse if the defendant has gone bust or in certain cases the defendant seems to have disappeared.
Consequently a high percentage of claims go undefended throughout the UK every year.
Has the UK Government done anything to try and improve this system?
The UK Government has brought in a system called Money Claim Online. This scheme is operated by HM Court Services which is the Government Department which runs the administration of the court system in England and Wales.
What is Money Claim Online?
- Money Claim online is a website whereby you can log on and provide all the information in relation to your claim.
- It is operated by Northampton County Court.
What are the requirements for Money Claim Online?
In order to be able to use Money Claim online your claim must be for any amount which is below £100,000.
You must have an address in England and Wales and have an email address in order for the correspondence to be sent to.
Consequently, virtually every person living within the UK can use this new system which began in 2002.
Can I still use Money Claim Online if I live abroad?
If you live abroad you will still be required to provide a UK address to be able to use Money Claim Online. If you live abroad you are able to provide service address in order to fulfill this requirement, however.
Can I use Money Claim Online to claim for money from a company outside of England and Wales?
In order to use Money Claim Online you must be seeking to claim money from an individual or a business which has an address in England or Wales.
How do I use Money Claim Online?
Money Claim Online is a very simple tool to use. You will be required to register with the website and provide full details of your claim without any evidence at this stage. You must provide all of your details in a concise manner when making your claim.
You will then be asked to provide a credit card fee for the service.
Will I be told immediately if I have a valid claim?
It is not the duty of Money Claim Online to tell you whether you have a valid legal claim or not, if you wish to know the details of this then you must procure the advice from a solicitor or from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
What happens if I am untruthful in the details of my claim which I provide?
If you are not truthful in the details of your claim which you provide, upon investigation you can be accused of contempt of court so it is imperative that all details you provide are true.
What happens once I have provided all the details of my claim?
Once your claim has been submitted all the documentation will be sent out to the defendant telling them all the details of the claim.
The defendant will then be provided with 14 days in which to respond to the documents. The 14 days will start on the day which they are expected to receive the documents by mail – this is usually taken to be 5 days from the day on which the documents were posted.
What happens if the defendant ignores the claim?
If the defendant ignores the claim then you will be provided with the opportunity to request judgement by default and in some cases even ask the court to enforce your claim immediately – this will usually be done by sending round the debt collectors.
What are the other possible responses that the defendant could provide?
It is often unlikely that the defendant will admit guilt in relation to your claim immediately so often one of the following other responses will be provided:
- Admitting that they owe the money but not the entire claimed amount
- Asking for more time in which to pay the money
- Admitting that they owe the money but then subsequently not providing any of it
- Denying the claim all together – in certain scenarios this may result in them lodging a claim off their own in the form of a counter-claim
What happens if they refuse the claim or I am not happy with the money offered?
If the defendant refuses that you have a claim at all or they offer an amount of money which is unsatisfactory to you then you will be provided with the opportunity of having your claim held before a county court.
The county court will be in the area where the defendant lives if the defendant is an individual person. If the defendant is a business then the case will be heard at a county court in your area.
Is this a system which has been used effectively?
Money Claim Online is a system which has been used to a certain degree of success. Perhaps the biggest area of success is in relation to people making claims against their Bank due to fees imposed by their Bank which they feel are disproportionate such as daily fees due to the customer going over their specified overdraft limit.
As this was often an area which would leave customers disgruntled but with little way of claiming back this money, Money Claim Online has provided an avenue to do this.