In England and Wales the 'small claims court' exists as a legal means of dispute resolution for claimants who are seeking compensation (generally claims under £10,000 in value). . Claims of this type often involve suing over non-payment of a bill or recovering monies owed. The small claims process is designed to be a simple one to use and cases are often heard quite quickly. Consulting dispute resolution solicitors is a good idea before you commence a claim.

Before you start a claim

There are some factors worth considering before you bring a claim through the court. It may be an option to settle out of court, for example. Oratto dispute resolution solicitors can advise you whether there is a more suitable solution than litigation, mediation perhaps.

The sum you would potentially receive through the small claims process may not be much different to an out of court settlement and would involve considerably less time and inconvenience. There will also be extra costs, such as court fees and you may need expert witnesses, such as surveyors, and engineers. However, it's possible to claim up to £200 for this service if you are successful in your action through the court.

Small claims lawyer

The time limit to bring most claims is six years, although it's sometimes shorter. Legal advice should be sought immediately if you are considering bringing a claim. Oratto has a number of member lawyers who are experienced in dispute resolution for small claims.

Fees to go to court

In going down the small claims track there will be an initial court fee payable. This amount will vary between £25-£445, depending on the sum of money being claimed. If your claim goes to trial, there will be a further hearing fee of £25-£335. Personal circumstances can also affect the amount you pay; if you are receiving certain state benefits the charges will be waived.

If you win and the payment ordered by the judge is not forthcoming, then you may to have to issue an enforcement order. This will involve further costs of between £30-£110, depending on the type of order.

Small claims track procedure

As a claimant you will need to complete a Claim Form and the Particulars of Claim and the court will then send the documents to the defendant.

A defendant will receive:

  • a copy of the Claim Form
  • the Particulars of Claim
  • a Response Pack

Once you have received the above and you wish to challenge the claim, then you have the option to file a defence within 14 days or send an acknowledgement of service. If the latter, then you will still need to file a defence 14 days after that. Your chosen solicitor will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed.

Further practicalities of dispute resolution for small claims that are worth considering are the time lost and personal costs of bringing the claim, plus the cost of travelling to the court if needed.

Find the dispute resolution solicitor who is right for your needs

For further help or advice on any aspect of the small claims process, contact an experienced Oratto member lawyer today.