Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court
The Small Claims Court, also known as the Small Claims Track in England and Wales, is a section of the County Court which deals with small civil claims under the value of £10,000 (£1000 for personal injury cases).
Procedures in the Small Claims Court can vary throughout divisions of jurisdiction:
Small Claims Court England and Wales
Law and the Legal System
The United Kingdom has three distinct legal systems, which are: the legal system of England and Wales (when we talk of English Law we are referring to the law of England and Wales), the legal system of Scotland and the legal system of Northern Ireland. Although, there are similarities shared by each of these systems, each has its own separate court system.
The law of any legal system is broadly divided into criminal law and civil law. Criminal law is administered by criminal courts; civil law by civil courts. On the whole, criminal courts punish those who are found guilty of criminal offences; civil courts, on the whole, compensate those who have suffered loss through another person failing to fulfil their obligations.
Civil cases cover a wide range of cases including breaches of contract, personal injury cases, consumer cases and landlord and tenant cases.
The Court System in England and Wales
In England and Wales, a criminal trial will be heard either in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court. The Crown Court tends to deal with the more serious cases. Civil trials are heard in the County Court or High Court. Although there may be other factors that are taken into account, the High Court tends to deal with the more complex cases.
The Small Claims Track in England and Wales
To be technically correct, there is no small claims court in England and Wales. The small claims procedure, or small claims track, is a specific procedure within the County Court. All civil cases are allocated to a track. There are three tracks, of which the small claims track is one.
The allocation is determined mainly by the amount that is being claimed. Cases are allocated to the small claims track where the claim is for less than £10 000 (as of 1 April 2013). Where personal injuries are involved the claim must be for less than £1000. The other two tracks are the fast track and the multi track. Cases are allocated to one of these where the amount claimed exceeds £10 000 (or £1000 in personal injury cases).
Bringing a Small Claim
If you bring a small claim you will be the claimant. The person against whom you are claiming is the defendant. If you represent yourself, you will sometimes be called a litigant in person. A litigant is a person who goes to court and if you represent yourself you are going to court in person. The procedures followed in the small claims track are covered in The Civil Procedure Rules, particularly Rule 27
How to Start Your Claim: 1. Introduction
You can choose to start your claim in one of two ways: at a County Court or online. A step by step guide from the Ministry Of Justice is available here. The law is covered in Part 7 of the Civil Procedure Rules, How to Start Proceedings.
If you choose to start in a County Court you’ll probably choose the court that’s nearest to you. There are over 200 County Courts in England and Wales and you can search using your post code for the one that’s local to you. You can start your claim in any County Court. There may be good reasons for not using your local court, for example, if the defendant lives in another location. If the defendant decides to defend the action it is usual for the case to be heard in the county court that is local to him or her.
To start your claim online you use a system provided by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service called Money Claim Online (MCOL). The Ministry of Justice provide a very useful FAQ sheet about using MCOL. You cannot use Money Claim Online if you are claiming for personal injuries or you are a tenant suing for the return of a tenancy deposit.
If you are a landlord claiming unpaid rent there is an equivalent on line service called Possession Claim Online (PCOL).
How to Start Your Claim: 2. Limitation Periods
The advice to anyone thinking of bringing a claim is: don’t delay. You only have a certain period of time, known as the limitation period, within which to bring your claim. After that period, you are said to be statute barred, i.e. prevented by law, from bringing your claim. As a general guide:
- There is a limitation period of six years in cases of breach of contract.
- Where the contract is in the form of a deed, the limitation period is twelve years.
- In cases involving personal injuries, the limitation period is three years from the time of the injury or from the time when you discover your injury.
- Where the case involves professional negligence, the limitation period is six years from the date of the negligent act.
How to Start Your Claim: 3. How Much Will It Cost?
To bring your claim there are three separate fees that you will have to pay:
- an issue fee
- a document questionnaire fee
- a hearing fee
Details about fees are contained in HM Courts and Tribunals Services document EX50.
The issue fee and hearing fee are on sliding scales that increase with the amount claimed. For example if you are claiming £1200 the issue fee is £80 (£60 if you use MCOL) and the hearing fee is £110 (it’s the same hearing fee whether you started your claim in the Count Court or used MCOL).
There is no directions questionnaire fee where the claim is less than £1500. Claims over £1500 incur a fee of £40. The directions questionnaire is used by the court to decide on the track to which your case will be allocated. It will ask you the following questions:
- Do you agree to use the court’s mediation service (a way of avoiding going to court)?
- Do you agree to your case being allocated to the small claims track?
- Which County Court (location) do you wish to use?
- Will you be relying on expert evidence?
- How many witnesses will you be calling?
Fee exemptions may be available; however, this really is a situation where everyone is different. There is a means test that works on a sliding scale. The means test measures both income and capital. In short, if you have over £16000 in savings you will not qualify for a fee exemption. You can use this calculator to see if you qualify for a fee exemption, and further information is contained in HM Courts and Tribunals Service document EX160A.
How to Start Your Claim: 4. Claiming Interest
If you are claiming for a sum of money you can claim interest on that sum. You may have a contract that expressly states the rate at which interest may be claimed. In the absence of a contractual basis for claiming interest, you can claim interest at the statutory rate, which is currently 8% per annum.
How to Start Your Claim: 5. the Claim Form
The claim form will ask you to set out your particulars of claim. You can continue on a separate sheet if required; however, the purpose is not to detail your case but to outline your case so that the defendant is in a position to know what the claim is about. If there are any documents that you are relying upon (for example a written contract) you should attach a copy with your particulars of claim.
You know need to ‘file’ your claim. If you are claiming a sum of money, filing means sending two copies to The County Court Money Claims Centre, PO Box 527, Salford, M5 0BY.
In cases where you are not claiming a sum of money you send your two copies to the court that will hear your case.
If you are claiming online through Money Claim Online (MCOL) you will have to provide the same information in electronic format. This document gives more detail for providing particulars of claim through MCOL.
You can if you wish serve the claim form on the defendant yourself, usually; however, you will want to leave this procedure to the court.
You do not have to attend the hearing. You can request that the case is heard in your absence by writing to the court at least seven days prior to the hearing.
If you wish to attend and are given a date to attend that is not convenient you can ask for an alternative date but will probably be charged a fee. You will have to offer some evidence why you can’t attend on the date, for example, you may have a medical appointment.
The procedure in the hearing is much less formal than a normal court case. The hearing will usually be held in the judge’s chambers (judge’s rooms). The judge will not be wearing a wig and will take a more active role than judges do in normal court cases. The judge will be well aware that you have no legal knowledge and are unfamiliar with the procedure.
Apart from the judge, there will not usually any other lawyers present, although the defendant may decide have legal representation. There may be witnesses, although quite often this is not the case. The judge may have a member of the court staff to assist her.
You can represent yourself or be represented by another lay person. A lay person is someone not legally qualified, and this can be a member of your family or a friend. You may also be assisted by a person known as a McKenzie friend. Again this may be a friend or family member or someone who has done training to be a McKenzie friend.
The idea of the McKenzie friend dates back to a case in 1970. The case was, in fact, one involving divorce, and today McKenzie friends tend to be used more often in family cases. The role of the McKenzie friend is restricted. He cannot represent you; in other words, he cannot present your case for you. He can assist you in such other ways as helping you with documents, taking notes and prompting you with questions.
The judge will take control of the case, so don’t worry about what the procedure is. Address the judge as sir, madam or judge.
The Decision and right to appeal
The judge will make a decision at the end of the hearing and give her reasons for it. You and the defendant will get a copy of the order that is made.
If you lose the case, it may be possible to appeal, which would be heard by a circuit judge in the County Court itself. However, this is likely to be very costly and an appeal can only be made where the judge has made a mistake of law or has failed to follow the correct procedure. You cannot appeal purely on the ground that you lost the case.
If you are awarded a sum of money that the defendant does not pay you can apply to the court to obtain the money that the defendant owes you by one of the following methods:
- a warrant of execution (where bailiffs either get payment or goods that can be auctioned)
- an attachment of earnings order (where money is deducted directly from the defendant’s salary)
- a third party debt order (which is used to freeze money in a bank account)
- a charging order (which gives you a charge on land or goods owned by the defendant).
The usual rule in English law is that the loser pays the winner’s costs. It works a bit differently in small claims. If you win you can generally claim back any court fees you have paid. You will also be able to claim reasonable expenses like travel expenses to the court and loss of earnings. There are limits on what can be claimed, however, and you cannot claim for legal fees if you chose to have legal representation.
Legal aid for civil cases is generally restricted. There are some cases that may qualify; however, if your case involves consumer or contractual disputes or personal injuries, legal aid is not available.
There are other sources of legal advice open to you. The Citizens Advice Bureau run drop in clinics and are a good source of advice generally; The Law Works Clinics offer free advice sessions throughout the country, and The Advice Now website has a number of free guides on the subject of going to court. In addition, Her Majesty’s Courts Service documents EX301, EX302, EX304 offer you some advice about making a claim.
Defending or Admitting a Claim in the Small Claims Track
What follows is what you should do if you have to defend or admit a claim made against you. It also informs you of how a defendant against whom you are claiming may respond to your claim.
The key piece of advice is: do not ignore the claim. Her Majesty’s Courts Service document EX303 offers advice in the event of a claim being made against you.
The court will send you a response pack explaining what you should do.
Once you receive the particulars of claim, your options are as follows:
1. You can decide to defend the claim
You must act within 14 days of receiving the particulars of claim. If the claim is for a specified sum of money fill in defence form N9B and file it with the court. Use the same form if you are making a counter claim (that is where you are making a claim against the defendant as well as his claiming against you). If the claim is not for a specified amount of money, or is a non-money claim, you should use defence form N9D. Again you can use this form to make a counter-claim. Your defence will be sent to the claimant and the case will go for a hearing.
2. You can decide to admit the claim
Where the amount is specified use admission form N9A. Send the amount claimed to the address on the claim form within 14 days. You can offer to pay by instalments. Even if you admit the claim the claimant can ask for a judgement to be entered against you. If the amount is unspecified use admission form N9C. You can offer a specified amount to settle or admit the claim without admitting to a particular amount. If you do not offer an amount the court will decide.
3. You can decide to admit part of the claim and defend part of the claim
In this situation you are doing both of the above actions so you will need to fill in the appropriate defence form and admission form. Again, act within 14 days of receiving the particulars of claim.
You can decide to make an acknowledgement of service
4. What you are doing here is acknowledging that you received the particulars of claim and you gain an extra 14 days in which you can decide how to act. The response pack shows you what to do. If you fail to act with 28 days of receiving the particulars of claim, the claimant can ask the court to give judgement in default.
Small Claims Court Scotland
What are Small Claims under Scottish Law?
The definition of small claims under the Scottish legal system is very similar to that in England. The major differences are that in Scotland the limit for small claims is £3000 and under, and hearings are held in the Sheriff Court.
In Scotland, there are two courts that hear civil cases, the Sheriff Court and the Court of Session, the latter court is the higher of the two. Broadly, Scotland divides civil cases into three types based upon the amount being claimed: small claims, summary causes of action (for claims between £3000 – £5000) and ordinary actions (where the claim is above £5000).
Once again, small claims refer to the procedure rather than the court, and this procedure is designed for people to represent themselves.
Bringing a Small Claim
Small claims fall into one of three categories:
- a claim for money
- a claim to recover property (personal property not land)
- a claim for implement an obligation
A claim for money is by far the most common type. This can include claiming unpaid debts, claiming compensation for damage caused and recovering money paid when goods have not been received.
Personal property, or movable property, includes things like cars, televisions and furniture. You might use the small claims procedure where, for example, you have taken your TV to be repaired and it has not been returned to you. You also include an alternative claim for the value of the goods for which you are seeking recovery.
The third type of claim would be used, for example, where you employ a decorator who fails to complete the job. Again you would include alternative money claim to the value of the job.
How to Start Your Claim: 1. Introduction
Your first step is to fill out a summons (that’s the claim form). The person making the claim is known as the pursuer. Use Form 1a if you are claiming against an individual and 1b if you are claiming against a company. Each form is in two parts. Both Form 1a and Form 1b start with Form 1. Form 1 is the part that you fill in with information for the court. Forms 1a and 1b are filled in with information that goes to the defender.
You will normally start your claim in the court where the person against whom you are claiming (the defender) lives or where his business is located. If you have a consumer dispute (usually one where the other party is a shop), you can start your claim in the court nearest to where you live.
How to Start Your Claim: 2. Prescription of Claims (Limitation Periods)
Cases in contract and negligence under Scottish law must be brought within five years from when the loss occurred or when the pursuer became aware that loss had occurred.
How to Start Your Claim: 3. How Much Will It Cost?
A fee is paid to the court when a claim is made. Court fees as of the 1 April 2013 are:
- £16 where the claim is less than £200.
- £71 where the claim is over £200 but under the maximum (currently £3000 or less).
- £55 to make an appeal.
Remember that fees are periodically reviewed so it is sound advice to check what the current fees are.
You may be entitled to a fee exemption; however, as in England there is a means test that you will need to take.
How to Start Your Claim: 4. Claiming Interest
You can claim interest on the amount you are claiming. You may have a contract that states the rate at which interest can be claimed; otherwise, you will claim it at the rate approved by the court (known as the judicial rate). The judicial rate will vary so you will need to check what the current rate is.
How to Start Your Claim: 5. the Summons
Section 7 of Form 1 is where you set out your statement of claim. What you are doing here is explaining to the defender what your claim is about. You should include details like: important dates, contract details and a description of any goods and/or services that you are claiming to be defective. Continue on a separate sheet if you need to.
With one exception, do not include with the statement of claim actual copies of any documents that might be relevant. The one exception is any contract regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (for example if you bought goods on credit you would have an agreement regulated by that Act of Parliament). If the case is defended, then any other relevant documents may need to be lodged with the court at a later date.
You now need to fill in Form 1a or 1b. The reason why there are two forms is that an individual defender (rather than a company) can apply to the court to have any debt to be paid regulated. A company cannot do this. The different forms reflect the different procedure required. Much of what is required you will already have included in Form 1. Any uncertainty can be cleared up by taking advice from the sheriff clerk.
The sheriff clerk will usually serve the summons on the defender. This is known as a copy summons. You, the pursuer, will also get a copy. The original summons, known as the principal summons, is kept by the court. If you wish, service can be done by your solicitor or the sheriff officer but this service will be charged for. The sheriff clerk will serve the summons by recorded delivery.
If the summons is returned then the sheriff officer will serve it personally or leave it at the defenders address. The current fee for this is £11; however, remember that fees are subject to change so check what the prevailing cost is.
Defending or Admitting a Small Claim
What follows is what you should do if you have to defend or admit a claim made against you. See in particular booklet 03 Responding to a Claim. It also informs you of how a defender against whom you are claiming may respond to your claim.
Where the defender is an individual or company the options are:
- To do nothing (1)
- Admit the claim and settle (2)
- Dispute the claim and go to a hearing (3)
Where the defender is an individual there are two further options:
- Admit the claim with a written application about payment (4)
- Admit the claim and attend court about payment (5)
With regard to options 3, 4 and 5, you will be given a return day (stated on Form 1a or 1b). The return day is the date fixed by the sheriff clerk for responding to the summons. A hearing date will also be stated on the Form 1a or 1b that will be 14 days after the return date.
If you dispute the claim, option 3, you may state a defence, dispute the amount or/and make a counterclaim. A counterclaim can be made if it relates to the pursuers original claim. There is no separate form for making counterclaims. For an example of a counter claim, see page 36 of the booklet 02 Taking a Claim to Court.
With option 4, above, the case will go to a hearing only if the pursuer does not accept your written application. With this option you may, for example, offer to pay in instalments, or to pay in full by a specified date. You do this by making a time to pay direction or time order. The copy summons contains the appropriate forms for these applications. You must lodge your application with the court before the return day.
The court will let the pursuer know, that you have lodged an application for a time to pay direction or time order. The pursuer then has to decide whether to accept what you have proposed. He does this by a written minute using Form 12 (if he accepts what you propose) or Form 13 (if he rejects your offer). Whichever form is used, the pursuer must lodge it with the court at the latest by close of business nine days before the hearing date.
If you choose option 1 and do nothing, the pursuer will use Form 11 to request the order that he wants the court to make. This is known as ‘lodging a written minute’. This request must be made two days before the hearing date.
If you admit the claim (option 2) and the pursuer is happy with this he will lodge a written minute to that effect.
If you have to go to court you can represent yourself, have legal representation or be represented by a friend, a member of your family or perhaps someone from the Citizens Advice Bureaux. If you authorise someone to represent you who is not a lawyer he or she will be referred to as an authorised lay representative. Alternatively, you can have a named individual who assists, but does not represent, you, known as lay support. You need to make a request to the court to have a lay support. Hearings will tend to be informal. You should address the sheriff as My Lord or My Lady.
Before the case starts, the sheriff will explain a little about how things will be conducted. As a general rule you, the pursuer, will go first in presenting your case and calling your witnesses. The defender and his witnesses will follow. The sheriff will take an inquisitorial approach, which means he or she will question you and the defender. This approach will be particularly evident where the defender disputes the claim. In order to establish the facts, it may be necessary for both sides to bring witnesses to court. With witnesses, the approach is that you will question your witnesses first, the defender can then question them and then it’s back to you to ask final questions. The sheriff may also ask questions. The same approach is taken with the defender’s witnesses.
Where the defender only disputes the amount of the claim, the sheriff will ask the defender to state the amount and give reasons why he thinks this is the correct amount. The sheriff will then give you the chance to respond. After hearing both of you a decision will be made.
The court may also hear evidence from expert witnesses in the form of written reports. The court itself may request such a report. The request may come from one of the parties, in which case the court will be allowed if both parties agree and one or both are prepared to pay.
If you want to obtain an expert’s report you make what’s called an incidental application to the court. The sheriff clerk will help with this. This procedure is also used for other things that may need to be done during the course of the case, for example, you might want one of your witnesses to give evidence by a TV link.
Where the defender has made a written application about payment that you have not accepted, the sheriff will ask you to explain why you have not found it acceptable. If the defender makes an application to the court about payment, he will need to explain how he will pay and what his financial position is.
The defender may have accepted that he owes you money but is disputing the amount. In which case, he will need to explain things to the court following which you will have a chance to reply.
The following decisions may be made: You, the pursuer, win and the court awards a decree in your favour. If you lose the case the court will award a decree absolvitor in the defender’s favour, in which case you cannot raise the same claim again. However, if the court awards a decree of dismissal of the claim in the defender’s favour you can raise the same claim again.
If an order is made against the defender and he fails to comply with its terms you may need to apply to the sheriff officer to have the order enforced. There will be a fee for this.
The usual rule in Scottish law is the same as in English law, if you win your case you are entitled to claim costs (expenses) from the other party; however, in small claims the amount that can be recovered is limited:
- Where a claim up to and including £200 has been defended no expenses can be claimed and court fees will not be recoverable.
- Where the claim is between £200 – £1500 and it has been defended, expenses up to £150 may be awarded.
- Where the claim is between £1500 – £3000, the limit is up to 10% of the claim.
Expenses include things like the cost of hiring a solicitor, travel costs and loss of earnings. The court can award expenses outside of the above ranges in certain circumstances.
Legal aid is not available for hearings; it may, however, be available where an appeal is made. Advice may be available from the organisations below:
- Scottish Association of Law Centres
- In Court Adviser services (available in some Sheriff Courts)
- Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland
- Money Advice Scotland
- Sheriff Clerks’ Offices (there are 49 Sheriff Courts divided amongst 6 Sheriffdoms)
The small claims section of the Scottish Courts’ website is also useful, and provides four very useful guidance booklets.
Small Claims Court Northern Ireland
What are Small Claims under the Law of Northern Ireland?
Small claims are those where the value of the claim is £3000 or under. This includes claims for debts, claims for faulty goods or workmanship and damage caused to property. Some types of case are excluded, including personal injury claims, claims for defamation and claims that involve the title to land.
In Northern Ireland, civil cases are heard by the High Court and the County Courts. The High Court deals with the more complex and higher value cases. Small claims are heard in the County Courts.
Bringing a Small Claim
Under the Northern Ireland system, the person who brings a claim is known as the applicant, the person against whom the claim is made is referred to as the respondent.
Your completed application form with two copies should be taken to a court office or posted to The Civil Processing Centre, PO Box 882, Laganside Court, 43 Oxford Street, Belfast, BT1 3LL. Include any relevant documents with your application.
You may wish to call witnesses in support of your case. Written reports from expert witnesses must be lodged with the court 14 days before the hearing date. The judge may decide that an expert should be consulted.
You may call other witnesses if you wish. So much the better if they will attend voluntarily. If they won’t attend voluntarily, the Civil Processing Centre will issue a witness summons.
How Much Will It Cost?
Court fees vary with the amount of the claim. Currently, fees are between £30 and £100. You should, however, check the most up to date fees.
Interest may be added to your claim. You may have a contract that sets the interest rate; otherwise, it will be applied at the court approved rate.
The Application Form
There are five principal areas that have to be completed. For an example of a completed form see the Small Claims Guide booklet. The applicant section is for your personal details.
The respondent section is for the personal details of the person against whom you are claiming. If the respondent is a limited company you should make the company the respondent. Where the respondent is a business other than a limited company, make the respondent the owner of the firm. If the business trades under a different name, make the respondent the owner of the firm and add ‘trading as’. There is a section for respondents who live outside Northern Ireland.
There is a section for the amount of the claim. If you are unsure you need to make an estimate. If the amount is over £3000, you can agree to abandon the claim for the amount above £3000.
The particulars of claim section is the section where you set out your case. You may continue on a separate sheet if required. Include such details as at what point the claim arose, what goods or services were involved, when were the goods or services purchased or what property has been damaged.
The completed application form needs to be signed. When you sign you are signing under a heading ‘Statement of Truth’. Therefore, you need to ensure that he details contained in your application are correct.
Here’s a very useful small claims application checklist.
Defending or Admitting a Small Claim
What follows is what you should do if you have to defend or admit a claim made against you. It also informs you of how a respondent against whom you are claiming may respond to your claim.
You can admit the claim by lodging an acceptance of liability at the Civil Processing Centre before the return date. You can either accept in full or ask for the court to determine how the sum will be paid by instalments. If you ask for time to pay the court may grant a stay of execution, under which you pay £50 per month to the applicant.
Alternatively you may dispute the claim and/or counterclaim, in which case the claim will be decided at a hearing. If you dispute the claim or counterclaim the applicant must attend the hearing.
Finally, you may decide to do nothing. The applicant may then apply for a decree. The applicant’s claim may be liquidated (the amount claimed is certain) or unliquidated (where the court assesses the amount of the claim). The Civil Processing Centre decides on the type of claim. The applicant will have been sent an information pack which contains two forms for applying for a decree: one for liquidated and one for unliquidated claims.
There is a useful diagram on pages 18-19 of the Small Claims Guide booklet that shows the different routes that are followed depending upon what you do as a respondent.
The court procedure is informal. It is designed for you to represent yourself. You can choose to be legally represented, but you will not be able to claim back your legal fees as costs.
If the respondent disputes the claim, and/or he makes a counterclaim, the judge will question both of you. You may question the respondent and his witnesses and he may question you and your witnesses.
There are two types of claim. If you know the amount that you want to claim, your claim is said to be liquidated. If you do not know the amount, it is said to be unliquidated and the judge will assess the amount. There may need to be a separate assessment hearing to do this.
The Decision and Costs
If you are successful you will be awarded the amount claimed and the court fee. The judge may also award other costs. If you lose the case you will not get back your application fee. If the respondent has counterclaimed and is successful in his counterclaim, you will have to pay the amount of his claim, his counterclaim fee and any costs the court might order.
If you are successful the court issues you with a decree which will state what the respondent has to pay. The respondent should pay within a reasonable time (usually 14-28 days). If the respondent does not pay, you can apply to have the decree enforced through the Enforcement of Judgements Office. (EJO). Further information about the EJO is available here.
Appeals are rare. They can be made only on points of law. You cannot appeal simply because you are unhappy with the decision.
Legal aid in small claims is restricted. You may be entitled to help under what is known as the Green Form Scheme. This covers advice short of going to court. There is a means test so check the figures.
Advice will be available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
European Union Cross Border Claims
What Is a Cross Border Claim?
A cross border claim occurs where one of the parties is a resident in a country other than the country where the claim is being heard. The general rule is that a case will be brought in the country where the defendant resides.
European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP)
The regulation creating the ESCP is available here. Information on the ESCP is available here. The small claims limit is EU 2000. Denmark is excluded from the procedure. The ESCP can be used where the claim is a non-monetary one. The procedure is written rather than oral, although there is the facility to have an oral hearing if required and video links and other communication technology may be used.
The procedure is designed for you to represent yourself. A note of warning here, legal costs may be recovered by the successful party. The court does have discretion not to award costs.
If you are successful under the ESCP you can get the judgment enforced in a domestic court. Enforcement rules thus vary from state to state.
Bringing a Small Claim
To start proceedings complete Form A. The form provides you with guidance for its completion. You can include any relevant documents. You select the country where the case will be held (ie where the defendant resides) and you get the appropriate Form A, which you deliver electronically.
If the form is correctly completed and meets the requirements for ESCP, a copy will be forwarded to the defendant, who has thirty days to respond.
Defending or Admitting a Small Claim under the ESCP
You can do any of the following:
1. Pay the amount claimed
2. Dispute the claim in whole or in part or counter claim
3. Do Nothing
If you choose option 2, you will receive the respondent’s defence or counterclaim (Form C) and will be able to comment on it. The judge may seek further in information, which may require an oral hearing. This can be conducted by video link.
If you do nothing, the judge can make a decision which may be in favour of the claimant.
If you lose, an appeal may be available depending on the state where the case was heard. The position is not uniform. Each state can set its own rule.
If you are successful, you may be entitled to costs for court fees and legal fees.