Small Claims Procedure in the UK
What is a Small Claim in the UK?
A small claim in the UK, is for any outstanding business debt of less than £10,000 in England and Wales, £5000 in Scotland and £3,000 in Northern Ireland. If you have a business debt in the UK for up to this amount, then you can use the small claims court, usually a local, county court to get your money back.
How does a small claims procedure in the UK work?
If you choose to proceed with a small claims case, you can apply to the county court for the amount of money you are owed. For fixed amounts, you can apply online through gov.uk. For unknown amounts, you will need to download an N1 claim form and post it to the County Court Money Claims Centre. You will need to pay a court fee to make a claim.
Once filed, you will either receive a court order for them to pay if they either agree they owe the money or if they don’t respond. If your debtor disagrees, you will need to go to court to argue your case.
Before filing a claim with the county court, you should consult with a solicitor. We can help you with this procedure and litigate on your behalf should your debtor dispute your invoice.
How much are small claims court fees?
Do you have an outstanding business invoice with one of your customers? Are you thinking about taking them to court but worried about how much it will cost?
In the UK, for example, the fee will very much depend on the amount you are claiming for. If you have an outstanding invoice of between £500 – £1000, then you will need to pay a fee of between £60-70 depending on whether you file online or submit a paper claim. Interest will also need to be added on.
Undisputed vs disputed
If you think your claim could be disputed however, the fees could be considerably higher depending on the length and complexity of the case. And as with all court cases, there is a considerable amount of paperwork and challenges to overcome. For example, if you submit a paper claim, but leave the ‘amount claimed for’ blank, then you will need to pay a fee of £10,000. So, be aware. If you’re only claiming for an outstanding debt of £3,000 then you only need to pay £205 and definitely don’t want to be overpaying.
If you’re unsure, you should always consult with a lawyer before filing a claim. Our debt collection lawyers are specialists and can help. With more than 65 years’ experience, our expert lawyers specialise in business debt collection. We can collect your money on your behalf.
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Adding small claims court fees to the debt
In the UK, if you are successful in obtaining a court judgment, any court fees you have paid are usually added onto the debt owed. However, even if you are successful in obtaining a judgement, it can still be sometimes difficult to enforce. It may require further fees and time before you get what’s owed to you.
How long does a small court claim take?
Usually, if the claim is undisputed, the small claims court is pretty quick. Once you complete the claim, the respondent has 14 days to respond; either by agreeing to the debt or disputing it. If they do nothing, then after the 14 days have lapsed, you can obtain an order from the court instructing your debtor to pay. However, should the claim be disputed, the process can take a considerable while longer.
There are other considerations you need to be aware of when taking a customer to court, for example, your business relationship. If a customer isn’t paying your invoices on time, you should question whether it is a relationship you want to continue. However, if your business relationship is important to you, then it is important you communicate this to a debt collection agency or law firm before they contact your debtor. At Bierens, we can successfully collect your debt without jeopardising your important business relationships.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a form of mediation and is often promoted to use in the UK before filing a claim. Alternatively, you can use a debt collection agency as soon as the invoice becomes overdue. It may sound odd, but using an agency or law firm from the get go, communicates to businesses that you are serious and will not stand for unpaid invoices.
On top of this, a debt recovery lawyer can ensure your debt collection policy is included within your terms and conditions and contracts. This makes it very clear to business partners what happens if business invoices are not paid on time.
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More information about small claims court fees and costs
Want more information about small claims court costs? Are you unsure whether you can afford to or should take your business partner to court? Get in touch with us today. Our debt collection lawyers can help. They can review your case and will always give honest advice regarding the validity and potential success of your case.
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