Why is this important?
This information applies to England and Wales
If your case is a simple one, the amount owed to you is less than £10,000, and the case is defended, then the court will probably decide to allocate the case to the small claims track. The most common claims are for compensation for faulty services, compensation for faulty goods, disputes with employers for wages due or for money in lieu of notice. These are just examples and the small claims track can be used for other claims too.
You must have tried to settle your claim before taking court action, for example by writing to the person who owes you money. You must have also have given them time to respond. You need to keep a copy of all correspondence.
You can start a claim by filling in a claim form and taking two copies to the court. You keep a third copy for yourself. You also pay the court fee at this time. You might not have to pay the fee, depending on your financial circumstances. You can make applications online in some cases.
If there is a hearing, it will usually be informal and you and the other party will have a chance to give your reasons for starting the claim and why it is disputed. At the end of the hearing, the judge will give the judgment. If you win you get your court fees back. You can appeal against the judgment but you have only 14 days to do so.
If you want to appeal against the judgment, you will need to get legal advice. You must do this urgently as you only have 21 days to appeal from the date of the decision unless the court sets a different date.
An alternative to going to court is to take part in mediation. There will be a charge, which will depend on the size of your claim and will be shared by both sides of the dispute. You can find a local mediation provider on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.
For more information about small claims, see Small claims.
For more information about alternatives to going to court, see Alternatives to court.
For more information on claims for personal injury, see Personal Injuries.