10th July 2019
Running Your Own Court Claim
If the prospect of paying hefty fees to lawyers for making or defending a court claim puts you off, then you’re not alone. Many people decide to run their own cases, including the trial. I always try to agree fees with my clients, and keep them to a manageable level, so there are no nasty surprises. But I can understand why sometimes people might decide to use a lawyer for only part of the case, or none of it.
If the claim is worth less than £10,000 then the ‘loser pays the winner’s costs’ rule does not apply, and so even if you win you can end up being put of pocket. This can be a major disincentive to pursuing or defending a claim.
It’s always disappointing to learn that a legal right is not being pursued for reasons of cost. I often hear of businesses that have decided that it’s easier to write off a debt or claim than spend money pursuing it. Even worse is where a claim against you is settled, just to avoid the cost of dealing with it.
But navigating the court process yourself can be straightforward, especially for simple claims like recovering a debt. A Government website has a useful summary of the small claims court process. It also explains the fees you’ll need to pay and how to enforce a judgment.
Here are other some places to go to for free help – click on the links:
Companies House. Are you suing a limited company or a sole trader/individual? Is “ABC Plumbing” a trading name for an individual, or a company name? Check on the Companies House website to see if a company exists, and also find out if a company is worth suing, i.e. how strong it is financially.
Acts of Parliament. The legislation you might need to bring a claim includes the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Limitation Act 1980.
Caselaw: link to a database of judgments in cases, usually in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court (or House of Lords).
Where to start the claim: link to the court system’s site allowing you to make a claim online, which is cheaper and quicker than on paper/by post.
For more information about pursuing debts, click here.
For more information about litigation and claims generally, click here.