This month is Halloween and in the spirit of all things scary, we thought we would focus this month’s Jargon Buster on a term that definitely could give you a fright, Small Claims Court.
Small Claims Court is a local court where, in general claims of under £3,000, can be resolved through the small claims process. The Small Claims Court will hear claims for debts, faulty goods, unsatisfactory workmanship and damage to property. Before beginning the process of pursuing payment through a Small Claims Court it is always recommended that you try and resolve the issue with the respondent directly, this can be done through your ADR service that forms part of your Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.
Whilst your ADR service is free to use, and in most cases will be recommended as the first course of action by the Small Claims Court, enlisting the help of the Small Claims Court will incur a fee. The amount you will need to pay the court is dependent on the size of your claim. To lodge a complaint court fees are £150 which is in addition to the fees on your claim amount.
To lodge a complaint with the Small Claims Court you will first have to fill out an application form, most small claim applications with regards to tenancy agreements fall under an unliquidated claim. This means the amount being claimed is an estimated amount, for example damage to a property, whereas a liquidated claim has a fixed sum attached to it like a loan.
Once the Small Claims Court have received your claim application they will then issue the respondent with a copy of this along with an information pack. The court will also send you, the applicant, an information pack with details of how to apply for a decree if the respondent fails to reply by the return date.
After receiving the notification from the Small Claims Court the respondent may choose to settle the claim to avoid court proceedings. They may however dispute the claim or apply for their own counterclaim.
If the respondent admits liability they can apply to the court to determine how repayments will be made. It is at this point the applicant can agree to these terms or ask that the matter be passed to a judge to determine a suitable repayment time scale.
In the event a respondent disputes a claim or files their own counter claim the case will be scheduled for a hearing where both parties will appear in front of a judge. Both parties will be asked to present their case as well as provide any evidence they might have or witnesses to speak on their behalf.
We hope this has helped to explain the Small Claims Court process and the service it provides should ADR prove unsuccessful.