Rent Arrears, Service Charge Disputes, Deposit Disputes, Disrepair and Dilapidations Claims, plus general debts are all common reasons why Landlords, Tenants and Letting Agents would consider using the Small Claims Court.
The Small Claims Court in England and Wales is designed to resolve disputes where the sum involved is £5,000 or less.
The court proceedings are relatively informal and lawyers do not normally appear because there is a "no costs" rule in the Small Claims Track. Litigants have to present their own cases, so if you've always fancied yourself as a bit of a Philadelphia Lawyer, here's your chance!
Claims can now be processed on-line, using the Court Service's Money Claim site.
Guidance can be found using the links on this page and the Civil Procedure Rules Practice Direction - Small Claims Tract
In England & Wales there are about 300 County Courts which deal with Civil disputes, as opposed to criminal cases which are dealt with by Magistrates and Crown Courts.
The County Court is often situated in the same building or near the Magistrates Court, and administrative staff are there to advise on procedural matters, but not legal matters.
The County Courts have District Judges who are appointed by the Lord Chancellor from the ranks of solicitors with at lease 7 years experience. It is these judges who hear the Small Claims cases.
The County Court Procedures involve 3 possible tracks:
When a defendant decides to file a defence to a claim, the court will serve an allocation questionnaire which, when completed, helps the court to decide which track is appropriate.
Having decided you have a legal claim, perhaps having taken some advice, you should always try to negotiate a settlement with the other party (defendant).
If you are aware of your legal position and you set out the facts clearly and concisely, preferably in writing (for use as evidence if this subsequently goes to court) you are more likely to reach an agreed settlement.
You may have to compromise on the settlement unless there are absolutely clear breaches of contract, so it may be expedient and less costly in the long run to accept a lower figure.
You also need to consider that there are absolutely no guarantees as to the outcome of the case, and that the preparation for a case involves time and effort if you are to stand any chance of winning. It's a good idea to purchase one of the inexpensive guides which are available - see below.
|Give Me Your Money: A Straightforward Guide to Debt Collection
by Anthony Reeves (Author), Roger Sproston (Editor)
|Debt Collection Made Easy (Paperback)
by Roy Hedges (Author)