What can I claim for in a small claims court?
The small claims court is an effective way to claim money from an individual or a company that you consider has tried to wrong you. The maximum sum that you can claim is £10,000; you can make the claim online; and it isn’t necessary to use a lawyer, although it may help to use one if you aren’t sure about the procedure.
What is meant by a small claim?
A small claim is a claim that is £10,000 or less, or if the claim concerns a personal injury, then the maximum is £1,000. The £1,000 maximum also applies if you are claiming against your landlord for the cost of repairs.
What kinds of claims can be made?
There are many different types of claims that are handled by the small claims court. Typically these are
- Compensation for poor services provided by tradesmen, garages, and cleaners
- Compensation for faulty goods such as appliances and televisions
- Landlord/tenant disputes such as rent arrears and repairs
- Wages that have not been paid by employers.
What kinds of claims can’t be made?
Personal injury claims where the claim is for more than £1,000 aren’t handled by the small claims court, nor are claims by tenants against their landlords for repair costs greater the £1,000. Tenants cannot use the small claims court for claiming back a deposit from their landlord.
The small claims court doesn’t handle intellectual property and copyright claims. These are handled by the Patent County Court but for claims of £10,000 or less the procedures are very similar.
Are there any time limits to start a claim?
There are different time limits for different types of claims and you should commence a claim before the limitation period runs out. Examples of these are:
- Breach of contract – 6 years
- Breach of witnessed deed – 12 years
- Personal injury – 3 years
- Professional negligence – 6 years
What should I do before making a claim?
Before you make a claim you should try to get satisfaction first; if you don’t try then you could be penalised. For instance, if you have bought faulty goods, then you should seek recompense with the seller or manufacturer by making a claim in writing and allowing a month for a reply. You should also warn them that you intend to take court action.
You should also consider sorting your claim by using a mediator.
How much does it cost to make a claim?
That depends on how much you are claiming. It's always cheaper to make a claim online. Court fees start at £25 for claims up to £300, and then there is a sliding scale up to £210 for claims of £5,000 to £10,000. You'll need to bear in mind that you'll also need to pay solicitor's fees on top of this too.
You also need to pay a court allocation fee of £40 for claims greater than £1,500 and a hearing fee of between £25 and £325.
If your claim is successful, then you could claim your fees back.
How do I make a claim?
It's very easy to start a claim. You can download a claims form N1 from www.justice.gov.uk and return it by post, or you can claim online, but to do that you need to register for a Government Gateway ID.
The most important part of the form is the section called “Particulars of Claim” where you state all the details regarding the claim.
What kinds of claims are likely to be considered valid?
It is very important to be honest when making a claim. If you try to exaggerate your case or inflate your claim, then it is likely to be rejected. It is very important to prepare your case carefully.
How can a solicitor help?
You don’t need a solicitor for making a claim through the small claims court, but if there are any complications in the claim then it could well be worthwhile getting advice from a solicitor on your chances of making a successful claim as well as help filling in the claim form.
If you feel that you would like to talk to a solicitor then you can find your local QualitySolicitors here.