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Bringing or Defending Small Claims in County Court

If your small business in England or Wales is owed money or is seeking compensation of £10,000 or less, you may be able to make a claim in the county court small claims track. The process can be complex, so here are some tips.


How to Start Your Claim

  • The first step is completing a claim form N1, downloadable from www.gov.uk. This must contain required details like your and the defendant's name and address, the remedy sought, the claim's value, and a brief statement explaining the claim.

  • You may also be able to sumbit claims electronically online.

  • There are fees to issue the claim, starting at £35 for claims under £300. The court will tell you if more fees apply later.

  • You can choose to serve the claim yourself or have the court do it. Make sure service is done properly and within 4 months or your claim may be struck out.

  • The defendant then has 14 or 28 days to respond depending on if they file an acknowledgement of service. If they don't respond, you can seek a default judgment.


Drafting Your Defence

  • If defending a claim, your defence must state your positive case and give reasons for any denials. Holding defences are no longer acceptable.

  • You can bring a counterclaim against the claimant in your defence. They must then file a defence to your counterclaim within 14 days.

  • You'll usually need permission from the court to amend your claim or defence after it's filed. This maintains efficiency.


Going to Court

  • Cases are first allocated to a 'track'. If it's the small claims track, the court will give directions to follow like filing witness statements before the hearing. Not complying could make you unable to use evidence.

  • Mediation is offered to try settling out of court. Consider participating in good faith as it can save time and legal costs.

  • Hearings are informal but you must still present your case properly. The judge may ask questions to clarify issues.

  • Usually no legal costs are recoverable, only limited expenses like witness travel costs. So litigation should be a last resort if alternatives like mediation or debt collection haven't worked.

  • If dissatisfied, you can appeal a decision if permission is given, within 21 days.


Using the small claims track can help resolve disputes efficiently if you understand the rules. But do consider alternatives before going to court. We highly recommend seeking legal advice if you are unsure.



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