Small Claims Court - FAQs

What is a Small Claims Court?
A court set up to deal quickly with claims for small amounts of money. If you are suing someone or they are suing you for a small amount of money this is where you may end up. The Small Claims Courts can be found in your local County Court. For details of your nearest County Court see the Courts Service Court Finder.


How much is a Small Claim?
If the amount of money claimed is £10,000 or less then it is likely to be heard in the Small Claims Court. For housing cases involving a landlord's failure to repair the property the claim will be heard in the small claims court if the cost of repairs or the compensation claimed is not more than £1,000.


Will I need to be represented by a solicitor?
Cases are dealt with differently in the Small Claims Court. It is supposed to be more simple so that anyone can deal with their own case from start to finish without using a solicitor. If you decide to use a solicitor you cannot get your solicitor's costs back from your opponent when you win. (If your claim involved an injunction you may be able to get back part of your solicitor's costs for the injunction claim).


Can someone else represent me in the Small Claims Court, other than a solicitor?
You can take a friend to speak on your behalf as your representative in the Small Claims Court, they will be called your "Lay Representative". If you just want to bring a friend or relative into court to consult with, but not to speak on your behalf they are known as your "McKenzie Friend". You must be present at court as well if you use a Lay Representative, they cannot speak for you in your absence. (An exception to this is if the Lay Representative is your employer or if the court gives special permission for you to be absent).


Where do I find a Small Claims Court?
Your local County Court will have a Small Claims section, please use the Courts Service Court Finder.


Can I get Legal Aid for a Small Claim?
Legal Aid is not usually available in the Small Claims Court, this is to encourage you and your opponent to settle the case between you without using solicitors or barristers.


What sort of Claims can I bring in the Small Claims Court?
Contract Claims, Debt Actions, Housing Disrepair and Personal Injury Claims, anything where you are claiming money up to £10,000.


Who will hear my case?
Cases are usually heard by a District Judge. However, if the case is complex it can be referred to a higher judge known as a Circuit Judge. In some cases if a special Arbitrator is needed the court has the power to use an outside Arbitrator, but this will only be done if you and your opponent agree.


How will I know how to prepare for my case?
After you start your claim and your opponent has filed a "Defence", the court will then send you a timetable, (this is called "Directions"). This timetable will tell you what you have to do next. For example, you may be told to send to your opponent copies of all the documents that you intend to use at the Hearing, including any Experts Reports.


What if I win my case but opponent will not pay?
If you win your case "Judgment" will be made in your favour. If your opponent does not pay then you will have to enforce your Judgment. There are various ways you can enforce Judgment. For example, if your opponent owns a property you can apply to the court to "Register a Charge" against that property and then seek an Order that the property should be sold and you will get your money from the proceeds. If your opponent is working you can ask for an Attachment of Earnings Order. This is where your opponent's employers must deduct a weekly or monthly amount from your opponent's wages to pay to you. Alternatively, you could ask for an Order that the "Court Bailiffs" go to your opponent's home or business to seize and sell your opponent's goods, so that you can be paid. (This is called a Warrant of Execution in the County Court and a Writ of Fi Fa in the High Court). If a "3rd Party" actually owes your opponent money or is holding money for your opponent, (for example a Bank or Building Society) you can get an Order that this 3rd Party pay the money direct to you - Attachment of Debt Order. See enforcement of a small claim judgment.


What if I don't want my claim to be heard by the Small Claims Court?
You can ask the court to take your claim out of the Small Claims Court, if you can show one of the following:

1. Your case involves a difficult question of law or has complicated facts.

2. You are accusing your opponent of fraud.

3. That both you and your opponent have agreed that the case should not be heard in the Small Claims Court.

4. That it is unreasonable for your claim to be heard in the Small Claims Court, because a Counterclaim has been made for more than £5,000 or because of your personal circumstances.


Small Claims Court

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