How to make a claim for a late or non payment of £10,000 or less
Please note: If you have a claim worth over £10,000, please contact us on 01773 712116 or visit our website, www.streetwisesubbie.com, for individual advice and support for your claim.
But what if you are owed less than £10,000?
We know that being owed £10,000 or less is still out of order and still constitutes a big claim to you, but due to the amount being lower than other claims it is classified as a ‘small claim’, meaning there is a different way in which it is dealt with by law. The following information details the process of making a small claims case from start to finish:
Before You Go To Court
There are certain time limits that apply to cases, such as if the late payment is in breach of contract which in the majority of cases it would be, you must make the claim within six years of the date of breach. However, I can’t see many people hanging around that long for their money and I don’t blame them!
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) do stipulate that you must try to settle the claim before taking it to the County Court Money Claims Centre (where all ‘small’ money claims are dealt with), so it is ideal to keep a record of all contact you have had with the contractor in question to show the extent of negotiation before moving on to court action. If you have been in contact via email keep a printed record of all correspondence, transcribe or make notes on any phone exchanges, and keep a record of minutes from every face to face meeting with any representative of the contractor’s company.
Sometimes if the court feels it would be beneficial, they will refer your case to a mediator, a professional impartial third party who is trained to encourage a mutually-agreed solution between you and the contractor outside of the claims court. If you have already paid your court application fee the mediation services will be provided free.
Starting Your Claim
If and when you decide to take the matter to the claims court, you will be asked to file a claim form (N1) detailing all the details of the claim. The more detail you can provide, the better, as it will help the court get a better understanding of the situation and help it to be dealt with quicker. If the details are complicated, you are advised to consult the CAB where experienced advisers can help you get the right details down in the clearest manner possible.
When claiming, you may be entitled to claim not only the amount owed but also interest on this amount for the time it has been owed. There are guidance notes on how exactly to word this on your claim form, and you can also ask advice from a CAB advisor.
If the none payment is in breach of a written agreement such as a contract or payment term agreement, then you should attach to your claim form all related documentation of this agreement and correspondence relating to the agreement.
Where To Start Your Claim
You can find your local county court where you will first start your case application here: www.hmcourt-service.gov.uk.
You can also start your claim online at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk if the amount you are owed is set, and the claim will typically be issued, printed and sent to the defending party (the contractor in debt to you) on the day of online submission.
Receiving Notification of Alloction
If the defending party agrees not to defend the claim and arranges for payment to be made immediately you will not have to go to the courts, however this is very rare. If the defending party do decide to allow it to be taken to court, the court will then send a notice of allocation, letting you know your case has been allocated to the money claims court and let you know what exactly you need to do to prepare for the final hearing. This typically involves sending the court copies of any documentation you intent to use as part of the case, and the defendant will be asked to do the same.
The Hearing Date
If the court sees fit, it may propose that based on the papers a decision will be reached by the court, meaning there is no need for a hearing. Both parties must agree to this for it to ahead.
If the court decides a hearing is needed, then they will send a time, date and location, typically with the notice of allocation or after if you or the defending party have decided not to settle without a hearing.
If you can’t attend the hearing date, you can apply to have it rescheduled but there is a fee for this, or you can put it in writing that you would be happy for the hearing to go ahead in your absence.
Preparing Your Case
You must present the case well and confidently if it is to win in the claims court, therefore if you personally are not confident in presenting it then it is wise to ask someone else to represent your company’s party in the court.
When it comes to any documentation used in the case, make sure it is in date order and clearly establishes the point you want to make by using it. Making a list of all the evidence you plan to use if useful to make sure nothing is forgotten and it is all presented in order. This should include all documents relevant to the case, from invoices and agreement terms, contracts and receipts (if part payments have been made) right through to any evidence of correspondence between you and the contractor.
The Final Hearing
The final hearing in the money claims court is typically quite informal and the judge will usually deal with it relatively quickly if enough information and evidence is provided beforehand. They will then at the end of the hearing make a judgement and give reasons for this, typically vocally with both parties present, but if you or the contractor’s party couldn’t attend the hearing it will be given in writing.
If you win, the court will refund the court fees and you will receive the final agreed amount from the defending party, and you have the right to claim expenses on top of this for travel, etc. If you lose you will not get the court fees back or have the right top expenses and won’t receive the amount claimed for.