Legal Article - Business Law

The Small Claims Track

Small Claims Track are claims issued either on an N1 form sent to the County Court Money Claim Centre (CCMCC) in Salford or those issued via the Money Claim Online service. The value of these claims will be no more than £10,000.

If you are in receipt of a claim form, then you will need to respond quickly. You should have been sent a Response Pack containing various documents. You are automatically given 14 days to respond. You must send the acknowledgment of service to the court within those 14 days if you need a little longer to prepare a defence but you will only get 28 days in total.

If you do not respond within the 14 and 28 days limits, the court is very likely to enter Judgment in default against you, meaning the Claimant will be awarded all they have asked for. You will end up with a County Court Judgment (CCJ) which, if you do not pay within 30 days of it being entered, will stay on the Register of Judgments for six years and mean you are susceptible to further action and costs - more on the effects of that in the section on enforcing County Court Judgments.

Assuming you do not want to ignore the claim and end up with an automatic CCJ, you have 5 response options:

1. You can pay the amount owed in full (including interest and court fees) and the case will not progress any further and no CCJ will be issued.

2. You can admit the claim and ask for time to pay on the admission form.

3. You can admit part of the claim and complete both the admission and the defence forms.

4. You can dispute the entire claim and/or make a counter claim and so complete the defence form only.

5. You could ask for the full 28 days to prepare a response and so send off the acknowledgment of service (do not forget to then follow up with Step 3 or 4).

If you defend the claim, you will be sent a Small Claims Track Directions Questionnaire. This is your opportunity to agree to mediation and provide the court with some practical details such as, if you would like the claim to be heard at your local County Court.

If mediation follows and a settlement is agreed, then the case will not progress but the Claimant will have the opportunity to return to court should you not make the agreed payments.

If mediation is not successful then the case will progress to a hearing (with a hearing fee payable by the Claimant) and you will need to start to prepare any witness statements and evidential documents. From here on in, you must follow the directions and deadlines as set by the court.

As a Lawgistics Member, we can help you prepare for your case.

Author: Nona Bowkis

Published: 09 Mar 2011

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