Supplier Problems? Small Claims Court - The Basics!

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Aug 22, 2009
Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Hi all,

Hopefully the majority of us will never have to do this but we all know that such problems can arise where a supplier has let us down and not responding to phone calls, emails, etc. so I have written this short and basic guide on the small claims court procedure.

Step one:

You will need to give them notice IN WRITING that you intend to take the matter to court should they not settle the matter and give them a reasonable deadline to respond (minimum 2 weeks), if no response after this deadline then you can begin the application process to make the claim.

Note: Always send the letter giving notice by recorded delivery so that you have a signature to prove receipt (or they can claim they never received it)

I have attached a sample letter to the bottom of this post, you do not need to use this exact template, however you DO need to include the following:

A summary factual events
The resolution you are looking for
How much you want to claim and the calculation as to how you reached that amount
The list of supporting evidence that you have and will use in court
A request for any document that you want them to supply to you
A deadline for their response (at least 14 days although most allow 28)
A reference to the Practice Direction on Pre Action Conduct and the fact that section II(4) of the direction gives the courts the power to impose sanctions on the parties if they fail to comply with the direction
A warning that court action will commence if they ignore the letter
Where applicable, a statement that you would be willing to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Step two - Application to the court:

Know your options:

Anyone thinking about initiating court action in England and Wales has to abide by the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct.

The Direction informs you what is expected of the parties to a dispute and what is expected by BOTH parties to keep the matter out of court. The parties are expected to be open and up front about their claim, also the defence shouldn't hold back any information or documents requested, both parties should think about and discuss where possible whether there is (or could be) a system of 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' (ADR) open to them that could resolve the dispute outside of court.

Research on how the process works:

Visit Her Majesty's Court Service in England and Wales, the Northern Ireland Court Service or your local court to get a claim form, research other documents that explain the small claims process. Make sure that you have complied with all steps set out in the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct before you start court action (such as the letter of notice and the relevant allowed time period to respond).

Fill In The Forms:

If you do not get a satisfactory response from the letter it’s time to complete the claim form.

If you live in England or Wales you can also make your claim online at the money claim website.

You will need the full name and address of the defendant (the registered address if it’s a company or a trading address if you don’t know the registered address (you can use the companies house website to find registered company addresses)).

You will need to describe the basis of your claim in full along with the amount you are claiming (you can also attach documents that you think could help to prove your claim), When you have completed the form the court will then log the document and assign it a number.

After this you may 'serve' the claim on the defendant (unless you have your solicitor do this for you), this must be done within four months and can be done via post, fax or in person. Although in small claims cases it is not unusual for the court to serve the papers for you but check this with them when submitting your claim.

If you feel that you need further advice about your claim then Citizens Advice may be able to help you, alternatively you can contact your solicitor or the Which? Legal Service.

Wait for a reply:

You must then give the defendant a chance to respond to your claim along with a brief explanation of if and if so, why they are disputing your claim. Alternatively, if the defendant is not disputing they could then accept your claim in full or in part.

The defendant has 14 days from the date they were served to respond. However, if they file an 'Acknowledgement of Service' form, this will give them an extra 14 days.

What’s next:

If the defendant does not dispute your claim then you must make an application for the court to enter judgement for you, for this you will need to fill in form N227, which is available from either your court or the court service website. The court may then either grant your claim in full or set a date for a hearing where they decide how much you should receive.

If the defendant does dispute the claim you will have to wait until the court assigns a date. In the meantime you will receive an 'allocation questionnaire', which the court will use to decide the complexity of your case, also, how long it will take to hear.

You will then receive your 'directions' from the court (the instructions to the parties regarding the final hearing), for example, the court could request that both parties send each other, and the court, copies of any documents they will be referring to for the hearing.

Decision Time!

At the hearing, the clerk of the court will call both parties into the room and ask each to put their case before the judge who may ask further questions before giving their decision (this decision will be confirmed in writing, usually within a few days).

The Resolution:

If you win the judge will then state how long the defendant has to pay the sum you have been awarded (usually one month).

This amount can sometimes include expenses such as court fees, (reasonable) travelling expenses, the cost of staying overnight (if relevant), and up to £50 for loss of earnings if you had to take day off work to attend (you can also ask for the same for any witnesses you called as long as they HAD to be there), in Northern Ireland you can only claim the court fee.

If they don't pay within the agreed time scale you may have to consider ‘enforcement proceedings’, which is further court action to force them to pay (such as having money taken from their salary).

Finally – I Sincerely Hope this helps a few of you out!

Please note, I am not a qualified legal expert and as such any legal references and facts made above are from research and / or experience (either my own or those known to me), therefore, please do not contact me seeking legal advice, if you need legal advice always seek the help of a qualified professional.


  • small claims notice letter.pdf
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Dec 28, 2008
With Gary's permission I am adding this information. Basically if you have followed all the advice above and won your county court claim and the person or persons don't pay up then use this information below.

Judgment Enforcement​

If you have a County Court Judgment (CCJ) or Order over £600 (including court costs) or a High Court Judgment or Order up to 6 years old then you have come to the right place.

For a court fee of just £60, we will transfer-up your judgment to the High Court for enforcement - absolutely free of charge.
Our nationwide team of experienced High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) offer consistently high collection rates, far in excess of the industry average year on year, as monitored by the Ministry of Justice.
How we work:
  1. Unlike others, we do not send letters warning of our intended visit. A warning often prompts the debtor to abscond or hide/sell any assets they may have
  2. When we arrive, we are permitted for force entry to commercial premises. Our extensive also powers include the ability to enter residential premises through an unlocked door or open window and to climb perimeter walls and fences
  3. Our first action is to seize the debtor's goods, chattels and other property. These can be removed and sold if the debtor fails to pay the sums due. In most cases, the threat of seizure is enough to secure payment
  4. We attend to collect the judgment amount, your court costs, your £60 transfer-up court fee, judgment interest at 8%
  5. Our fees and costs are paid by the debtor
Unlike many of our competitors, all of our High Court Enforcement Officers are also experienced Certificated Bailiffs and they all carry portable credit/debit card machines allowing easy secure Chip and PIN payment by the defendant and NO CHARGEBACKS!

I watched the programme today on BBC1. They do other things so check out the link below.
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