What Is The Small Claims Court?

The small claims track of the civil courts handles low-value claims. They are known as the small claims court. Civil courts have limited staff, judges, and courtrooms as such they must decide how much of their time and resources to devote to each case. Because the courts handle a very large number of claims each year, the lower-value claims must be handled more swiftly and with less effort.

Small claims cases, with a value of up to £10,000, are handled by the civil court system’s small claims track. Almost all of them are dealt with in the County Court.

Money Claims and What This Site Can Help You With

Small claims are money claims, refers to disputes over money. The parties are in disagreement over money owed and usually there is some sort of debt involved or/and a breach of contract.

These are the types of topics covered on our website. We do not discuss, for example, parking fines disputes, personal injury or employment claims.  The court regulations, forms, and administration are different.

Terminology: Common Legal Words You May Find

Here are some common legal terms definitions, however, give the court office a call if you’re not sure what a term or word means. The courts are unable to provide legal advice, though they may be able to explain some of the fundamentals.

  • The claimant is the person who issues the claim.
  • The defendant is the person responding to the claim.
  • The claimant starts the claim by issuing a claim form, which the court puts in the post to the defendant.
  • Part of the claim form is called the particulars of claim. This sets out what the claim is about, what the claimant wants from the defendant and how the sum claimed is calculated.
  • When the court serves a claim on the defendant, it will also send a response pack. This is a bundle of documents which includes an acknowledgment of service, defence form and admission form.
  • The defendant sends his defence to court and the claimant by the date specified in the paperwork and no later than 14 days from the date of deemed service. The defence sets out the defendant’s response to the allegations contained in the particulars of claim. Sometimes, a counterclaim is appropriate.
  • The court sets the directions after the parties file a directions questionnaire. This is a form that must be completed and sent to court. The Claimant also usually has to pay a fee.
  • Directions (sometimes referred to as case management directions)  are the steps ordered by the court to to get a claim to trial.
  • The court will set a trial date and may refer to ELH. ELH is stands for estimated length of hearing.
  • When setting directions, the court may refer to filing and serving a document. Filing means sending it to court. Serving a document means sending it to the other side.
  • witness statement is a written statement by someone who is to give evidence at trial.
  • A witness statement, particulars of claim and defence should be signed by the witness, containing a statement of truth. This is an important statement to the court that the signing person believes the content of the document is true. Signing a false statement is contempt of court which is a criminal offence.
  • The courts encourage mediation. Small claims mediation is a free service provided by the court to help parties reach terms of settlement. A mediator does not sign a claim, he just helps to see if a deal can be reached.

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