The idea behind the Small Claims Court is to provide an arena for members of the public to bring and defend Court proceedings without the need to instruct lawyers and incur legal costs. This ensures that there is access to justice for all.
A key feature of the Small Claims Court is that legal costs are not recoverable win or lose.
For many people however, the prospect of issuing or defending Court proceedings without legal representation is daunting because of the implications of the potential outcome. Many people therefore feel the need to instruct solicitors to represent them in order to portray their case in the best light possible.
At Linder Myers we have a Small Claims Track Fee structure which allows us to assist you during the course of the proceedings on an ad hoc basis; this allows you to seek advice / guidance when necessary for a clearly identifiable cost. You then have control of how much or how little input we have and the costs to be incurred.
It is usual for claims with a value of less than £10,000 to be allocated to the Small Claims Track of the County Court. This means cases are streamlined with a number of steps to complete before a trial.
It is important to note that Court proceedings should be considered as a last resort. You are expected to try and resolve the dispute with the other party beforehand which may be easier said than done. You should consider whether the Civil Procedure Rules provide any obligation on you to comply with any ‘Pre-Action Protocol’ and if you are unsure, you should seek advice from a solicitor.
If no agreement can be reached then Court proceedings will have to be issued. You will be required to pay a Court fee upon issuing your Claim, the amount payable will vary depending on the amount of your Claim. This fee is recoverable from your opponent if you are successful in your Claim.
Given that legal costs are not generally recoverable ‘win or lose’ within the Small Claims Court, anything you spend with lawyers is dead money and will ultimately reduce (or increase if you are a Defendant) the value of the Claim.
Our advice is that you should first consider consulting free organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau/ Community Legal Advice, or the organisation that oversees complaints or disputes, for instance ABTA (for travel disputes) or The Financial Ombudsman (for banking or any other financial disputes) for disputes under £10,000. If they are unable to assist you and you feel overwhelmed by the process then you may want to seek legal advice.
If you require assistance with a small claim, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 042 0700 or email email@example.com