What Qualifies a Small Claim?
A small claim is a claim which is under £10,000.
Will my case be heard in front of the small claims court?
Prior to April 2009 all small claims were held in front of the small claims court. However since this date Civil Procedure rules which have come into place have changed the way procedures in relation to the administration of the justice system in the UK. This is specifically in relation to the county court system.
So what kind of court will hear my case?
How your case will be heard depends upon the monetary value of the claim. For example if your claim is for a sum which is less than £5,000 then your claim will be allocated for arbitration in front of a district judge.
If your case is involving a sum which is for more than £5,000 then your case will be held in an open court. It is, therefore usual for your case to be heard in front of a judge with more seniority than a district judge.
How do I bring about a claim in the first place?
In order to initiate your claim you will be required to complete a form called an N1 form. This form must be included within the statement of your case.
Where can I obtain this N1 form?
You will be able to obtain the N1 form from the official website for HM Court Services. HM Court Services is the Government Department which runs the administration of the court system in England and Wales.
Where must I send this form?
You must send the form and the statement of your case to the specific court which will be hearing your case.
In practice before submitting a claim you should seek the advice of a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau. All details in relation to the completion of the form and the statement of the case will be provided by either the solicitor of the Citizens Advice Bureau.
What will happen once I have provided the form and submitted the statement of my case?
Firstly the court will register your claim in their records – this is called issuing the claim. Once this has been done a copy of the claim will be sent to the defendant.
What happens once the defendant has received the details of the claim?
Once the defendant has received the details of the claim he or she can either admit to the claim or state that they oppose the claim.
If the defendant opposes the claim they will be provided with 21 days to provide their acknowledgement of the papers to the court and then will be provided with a further 14 days with which to put together a defence.
Will I be able to see the defence documentation?
All documents which have been submitted by the defendant as their defence will automatically be sent to you as the claimant.
Once the defence has been filled the court will then send to both sides an allocation questionnaire. This questionnaire will enable the judge to assess all issues relating to the case and to decide on the best possible course of action to take it forward effectively.
Fast Track or the Small Claims Track
If the value of the claim is less than the required amount for an open court hearing, i.e. £5,000 then your case will be automatically be allocated to the small claims track.
A claim above this requirement will then be allocated to the fast track which means it will proceed to court following the required formal provisions concerning disclosure and questions.
A claim which follows on the small claims track will proceed to arbitration without the need for the formal disclosures and questions.
How long will it take my case to get to court?
Once all the procedural aspects are completed the court will be provide you with a date for the court hearing which will usually be three to four months in the future.