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Small Claims Court – how does it work?

Small Claims Court – how does it work?

A small claim application may be made for cases where the sum in dispute is £3000 or less. Small Claims cases usually involves such matters as money owed to you, poor workmanship by a builder or other tradesman, faulty goods or damage to your goods or property.

You cannot use the Small Claims Court for Road Traffic Accident claims, cases that should be in the High Court or the county court [that is cases with a value over £3,000 if in the County Court or over £15,000 in the High Court], defamation cases, disputes about the ownership of land, personal injury cases, inheritance claims or family law cases.

The Small Claims Court is designed to be a “lawyer-free” zone. It is for individuals to bring their claim in a reasonably informal manner before the local district judge.

A solicitor can advise you on how to fill out the correct forms and advise you about your case, but will be unable to attend in Court with you. Although you won’t incur a solicitor’s fee for a court appearance, the Court itself will charge fees for these cases.

The fees payable are as follows:-Value of Claim: Fee Payable:

  • Under £300 and £30

  • Between £300 and £500 £50

  • Between £500 and £1000 £70

  • Over £1,000 up to £3,000 £100

Court staff can help you by explaining the process but cannot give you legal advice.

What is the process?

Get an application form, fill it in and return it to the Court office with the correct fee. (Do not sent it to the other party – the Court will do this form you.) Court staff will process the application and send copies of the dame to the other party. If the other party accepts responsibility for your claim they should lodge an “Acceptance of Liability” form with the Court. If the respondent refuses to accept responsibility then the case will be listed before the judge.

At the hearing each party at the hearing gives their side of the story before the Judge gives their decision. If your claim is successful the other party will have to pay you the amount decided by the judge. If you are not successful, then the other party will not be ordered to pay you anything, and you won’t get the application fee back that you paid.

You may appeal against any order made during small claims court proceedings If you have grounds to do so. You must appeal within 21 days.

You can lodge an application on-line at www.courtsni.gov.uk.

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