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How to make a claim in the UK?

You want to issue a claim usually when someone owes you money. People alsoissue claim for other reasons, including:
  • bad workmanship;
  • damage to their property;
  • road traffic accidents;
  • personal injury;
  • faulty goods...

If someone owes you money, you have several possibilities of action:
  1. you may write to the other party in order to settle the issue;
  2. you may try to use one of their reference (if any) to help in the settlement of the issue;
  3. you may complain to Trading Standard (customer protection service that will defend your right - each local council has a Trading Standard service).

If none of these two options work, you can contact a lawyer. However, as his/her fees will be probably £1000s, you might try cheaper solutions first and seek advice a local law center.
  1. you may ask free legal advice from a law center, such as the CAB (Citizen Advice Bureau) or consumer advice center;
  2. you may decide to issue a claim through the county court.

The Citizen Advice Bureau

You can have free advice on your right on any issue by going to your local Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB). First come, first served, the CAB is usually open a few evenings during the week and is based on voluntary lawyers who can help you filling papers, reviewing a case or drafting letters on your behalf.
They are free and you can find the address of your nearest CAB by calling your local council.

If it does not work, you may decide to issue a claim through the county court.

The County Court

The county court deal with all the claims. The term "small claim court" means the fast track procedure for handling smaller claims [http://www.small-claims.co.uk/]. It will usually only apply to claims for £5,000 or less against the person in England or Wales.

You will need to pay a fee to start the claim (e.g. up to £300 = £30, ... £1,000.01-£5,000 = £120, ...), which depends on the amount you are claiming. You may also add some amount to compensate the time you used, interest on the money owed or law fees.

In general, if a claim is worth less than £5,000, it is not necessary to seek advice of a solicitor, but you can take someone (lay representative) to the court hearing to talk on your behalf. You will have also to present evidence.

For claims that are worth less than £100,000 you can claim online: http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk

If you do not use the online service and you want to start a claim, you need to go to the County court to pick up the free form N1 (claim form). You will have also several information booklets and if you need other claim forms you can photocopy them or print them from the website. You can find the address in the phonebook under Court, or from the website: http://www.courtservice.gov.uk. Most court offices are open between 10am and 4pm.
You need to fill/photocopy :
  • one copy for yourself
  • one copy for the court
  • one copy for each defendant you are claiming from

You can have help in filling the form at the CAB. Once stamped (you then has to pay the fee) the court will then send the claim to the defendant by post.
This one can (within 14 days):
  • do nothing: then the court will issue a judgement based on your claim;
  • admit that the whole or part of the claim is owed;
  • dispute (defend) the whole or part of the claim: then you will go to the court hearing.


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