What Is The Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court refers to a court which deals with legal claims classed as ‘small claims’. Now, small claims may not be as small as you think. Generally, a claim is classed as a small claim if it is valued at less than £10,000, which is not a small sum to most people.
There are exceptions to this, and some cases are not put on the small claims track due reasons such as importance or complexity, even though they are worth a lot less than £1,000. There is more information about the exceptions below.
The purpose for this type of smaller claim is to be able to resolve a dispute quickly and cheaply. The main goal is efficiency to allow you to make these claims much more easily.
How Does Small Claims Court Work?
As with any legal process, certain details can get complicated. And, every case will have its own nuances, but there is a basic format every case will follow. As such, every case can be broken down into a general 3-step process.
- Your small claim will start with an initial interview with a solicitor, after which you will instruct a solicitor will send a letter of claim to start the claim. The other party may accept liability at this stage and pay, or they may choose to defend the claim.
- If the Defendant does not accept liability, your solicitor may commence court proceedings on the Small Claims track. This is the build-up to a trial, and the Defendant may decide to settle at any point here.
- Finally, if a resolution has not been reached, your claim may go to a small claims trial where a judge will have to decide which party has proven the case, on the balance of probabilities. If you win the case, the Defendant can be ordered to pay any money owed to you, or any compensation due. Also, the court may order the Defendant to do something you require, such as conducting repairs, or to stop trespassing on your land.
Chris Rudd Solicitors also provide a more detailed breakdown of these stages, which are described in the Legal Fees section further down this page.
What Could A Small Claim Be For?
There are several things you could make a small claim for. These are all covered by the generic value as already mentioned – they are a small claim if it is for £10,000 or less. These include:
- Unpaid bills, invoices, or debt
- Mis-sold or faulty goods
- Minor personal injury
- Contractual disputes
However, there are some variations on this. First, not all small claims will necessarily be for financial compensation. Some claims, such as for housing disrepair, might just be for a landlord to fix a leaking roof or some other problem.
Secondly, the £10,000 does not apply to all types of claim. Exceptions include:
- Only personal injury claims worth less than £1,000 are small claims
- Only a housing disrepair claim where the cost of the repairs is less than £1,000 will be a small claim
- Some claims for harassment or unlawful eviction will not be allocated to the small claims track
There are other claims which might not be suitable for the small claims track if they are complex or legally important. But, your solicitor will advise you further about this.
Normally in a small claim you will not get back all your legal costs if you win. But the opposite is true, so if you lose the claim you don’t have to pay all your opponent’s costs. This is why the small claims track can be a popular solution.
Although, it does mean that you will have to consider that you might have to pay some legal fees even if you win. Legal fees can be off putting for a lot of people when talking to a solicitor. So, Chris Rudd Solicitors have introduced fixed fees for small claims.
These fixed fees are designed so that making a small claim with expert, professional legal advice is easily affordable. And, the simple breakdowns of these fixed legal fees also mean you know exactly what you will need to pay, and when.
On top of that, if any extra work beyond the scope of those fixed fees, you’ll be told in advance. So, there will be no extra hidden charges.
You should also bear in mind that your solicitor can add value to the claim by advising you that you are entitled to claim for things you weren’t aware of. In this way you will often find that your solicitor has added more into the claim in the way of additional damages than you have had to pay them in costs. As such, it is common to find that your solicitor has, in effect paid for themselves.
Often, in a small claim you might want to represent yourself. As a non-legally qualified person representing yourself, you would be a litigant in person. Small claims hearings are a little less formal than other court hearings, but it is still worth having a legal professional in your corner and we have affordable ways to pay for an experienced advocate to attend the trial.
Costs Upon Winning
You are only able to claim certain costs from the other party if you win a small claim. They are also called fixed costs, but it is important not to get these confused with your solicitors fixed fees. You can’t claim your solicitors charged, but you could be awarded these costs:
- Court fees paid
- Travel expenses and loss of earnings (if applicable)
- Some expenses for Witnesses who gave supporting evidence
- Cost of Experts Reports (up to £750)
There is more guidance on this, but that won’t apply to every small claim case. And, you should know that every case is different. As such, details like these may differ slightly from case to case.
Costs Upon Losing
As described above, the losing side may need to pay certain legal costs of the winning side. If for whatever reason you lose your claim, that would mean you pay your opponent’s costs.
For the most part, those costs will be the same as described above. But again, exact details will depend on your case.
Interested In Making A Small Claim? We Can Help!
So, if you would like to make a small claim, Chris Rudd Solicitors can help. We can help you with a range of disputes that may fall under small claims.
We always try to work in a way that is most affordable for our clients, which is why we can run this type of claim on a fixed fee basis. These fixed fees mean that you will always know exactly what you are paying for, how much you are paying, and when.
Chris Rudd Solicitors can help, so get in touch to find out what we can do for you. Call us on 01925 351 350, or send us a message through our contact page.