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Small Claims Court guide

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Small Claims Court guide

edited 18 September 2015 at 11:08AM in Consumer Rights
676 replies 149.6K views
MSE_AmyMSE_Amy Former MSE
49 posts
edited 18 September 2015 at 11:08AM in Consumer Rights

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Replies

  • What about the pre-action protocols? do they still have to be used?
  • unholyangelunholyangel Forumite
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    dancingzen wrote: »
    What about the pre-action protocols? do they still have to be used?

    Possibly covered by this part of the guide?
    Going to court should be a last resort
    Court action shouldn't be your first attempt to get redress. You must be able to show that you have tried to settle a claim before taking court action - if you can't, the court may penalise you.

    The court will expect you to have already made your claim in writing, giving the other person a reasonable amount of time to reply (you should specify a time limit in your complaint letter). You should also warn them that you'll take court action if they fail to reply within the given time. You never know, just saying this may be the kick up the bum they need to cough up.

    Don't rule out mediation before it gets to this stage. Sometimes even if you start a claim, the court might refer your case to a mediator. But don't worry, if you settle out of court before the hearing, you may be able to get some of your court fees refunded.
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means - Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
  • I had a negative experience with a garage repair. They charged for 2 visits and didn't fix the car. I went through the whole process and filed everything on time and correct with the Court. The other side only responded after the last deadline and a week before the hearing date by informing me they had employed a Silk to defend them.
    The Judge hadn't read any of the documents and didn't take into account their poor behaviour. He said the car could have developed 2 different faults (with identical symptoms), so he let them off. He didn't award any costs.
    I was absolutely dumbfounded because all the advice Trading Standards gave me about consumer protection was stood on its head by the Judge, who demanded technical proof of incompetence.
    I really think you need a lawyer's help to have any chance of winning.
  • About 10 years ago i took a lanndlord to court for my 1500 deposit and won-never got a penny ??apparently no way to enforce so waste of time..or has this now changed and if so can i apply again?
  • djprince1 wrote: »
    I had a negative experience with a garage repair. They charged for 2 visits and didn't fix the car. I went through the whole process and filed everything on time and correct with the Court. The other side only responded after the last deadline and a week before the hearing date by informing me they had employed a Silk to defend them.
    The Judge hadn't read any of the documents and didn't take into account their poor behaviour. He said the car could have developed 2 different faults (with identical symptoms), so he let them off. He didn't award any costs.
    I was absolutely dumbfounded because all the advice Trading Standards gave me about consumer protection was stood on its head by the Judge, who demanded technical proof of incompetence.
    I really think you need a lawyer's help to have any chance of winning.

    Many cases are won by individuals acting alone.

    Was this a high value claim? It would surprise me if a garage would instruct a barrister for a small claims case - their costs would be more than most claims.
  • Important update! We have recently reviewed and updated our Forum Rules and FAQs. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the latest version.
  • I'm delighted Martin is providing help on this matter, because it can be very daunting. The first thing you have to do is learn the process, and the best way is to go in person, if you possibly can, to the office at your local county court. Over the counter you can talk to a clerk. They cannot give you any legal advice, but they can give you all the leaflets, which are fairly easy to understand, and answer any question you have on how and when things are done. If they can't tell you, they will ask you to write it down, send it to them in a letter, and they will place the letter before a judge and get a reply for you. If at all possible deliver all documents to the court in person. My local court has a through-the-wall letter box so one can deliver out-of-hours. If something goes missing in the post, the court can time out and take automatic action, possibly against you. Of course you can apply for that to be reversed, but it just adds to the hassle and stress. You cannot be too well organised. Acting as my wife's 'lay representative' and presenting her case in court for her, I found myself up against no less than a barrister, hired by the defendant. You must be able to answer any question and produce any document or quote or item of evidence quickly. The more preparation you do, the more likely you are to succeed. Keep your eye on the Judge. If the Judge is writing, keep quiet. Only when the Judge looks up, should you continue what you were saying. Finally, write the word 'REASONABLE' in big letters on something you treasure and see often. Everything you do, say, or indeed even think, must be seen by the Judge as being reasonable in the circumstances. And it must also be seen to be relevant. Judges hate court time being wasted, so settle out-of-court if you can; you should be prepared to accept any REASONABLE proposal from the opposition. Be sure of your preparation, be REASONABLE at all times and you will not get too scared in court. Remember what Gary Player said ... "The more I practice, the luckier I get".
  • unholyangelunholyangel Forumite
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    emmalloyds wrote: »
    About 10 years ago i took a lanndlord to court for my 1500 deposit and won-never got a penny ??apparently no way to enforce so waste of time..or has this now changed and if so can i apply again?

    Did you have the judgement enforced?
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means - Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
  • dancingzen wrote: »
    What about the pre-action protocols? do they still have to be used?

    In theory - yes. However, as there are unlikely to be any cost consequences in not following the Protocols, there isn't really any sanction.

    Best to follow, however, unless there is a compelling reason not to.
  • Best advice I can give is do not necessarily rely on the online MCOL.

    In a complex case with, for example, multiple defendants it is simply not sophisticated enough to deal with the claim. Equally, if the space for completion of the Particulars of Claim is insufficient then log out and do it the old fashioned way.
  • nigpudnigpud Forumite
    3 posts
    I have a case pending re. Ebay auction with seller refusing to deliver on winning bid. Order has been received from the Court giving date of hearing, but staying the claim to allow for mediation to take place. This is over the telephone with a Court mediator and is free.
    Date fixed for 1 May, I'll report on experience.
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