Starting a Claim & Making a Counterclaim
Not all problems are readily or easily solved. Unfortunately, some problems cannot be solved without having to go to court. When a dispute between two or more separate parties becomes and remains unresolved, it often winds up in court. Finally, for people who have never been in court or that have never dealt with small claims and the various procedures, whether they are starting a claim or making a counterclaim, the entire process can seem confusing. It neednít be. In fact, becoming familiar with the basic procedures in small claims court and discovering what is involved in starting a claim and making a counterclaim can help individuals better understand what to expect when they are part of a small claims case.
There are essentially, three different tracks that a case takes in small claims court: small track, fast track, and multi track. Further, the track that any case follows is primarily based on the amount of money the person filing the claim is looking to be awarded in court. If the person filing the claim is looking for an award that does not exceed £5,000, their court case would be considered part of the small claim track. Alternatively, if the person filing the claim is interested in an award that exceeds £5,000, but does not exceed £15,000, the case is part of the fast track. Meanwhile, the cases that involve claims where the claimant seeks more than £15,000 are part of the multi track.
Bear in mind however; there are other factors that differentiate the three tracks and what track a case takes is not solely based on the amount of the award that a claimant seeks. Further, such differences are primarily identified between the fast track and the multi track cases. Fast track claims are processed during a court preceding that is expected to last no longer than a day, limited cost recovery is imposed upon the claimant and the claimant can expect to be in court within 30 weeks; once the case directions have been set. Case directions are the court orders that define the actual administration of the case. Conversely, the multi track is used for complex cases expected to require a lengthy trial. Multi Track cases usually possess far more documentation then the small track and fast track case, hence why it is considered the more complicated track of the three.
For those individuals interested in filing a claim or counterclaim, they will need to bring their cases to court in the County court. It makes no difference what county a claimant files their claim in; the claim will be transferred to the county in which the defendant resides. In fact, unless the claim being made is for an undefined amount of money, the case will be automatically transferred to the appropriate county and the claimant will be contacted about the transfer and the date they are expected to appear in court. Cases with an undefined amount of money, like cases requesting compensation for damages, will not be automatically transferred.
There are some standard fees when filing a claim and fees are determined based on the amount of the award that the claimant seeks. In some instances, such fees can be recovered from the defendant, if the claimant wins the court case. Further, in some instances, individuals may be eligible for remissions or exemptions from court filing fees. Individuals that speak with the county clerk will find that many of their questions can be easily addressed.
Claimants that feel insecure about the entire small claims process may benefit from speaking with a solicitor. A solicitor is familiar with all of the laws that apply to small claims issues and can help clarify whether or not a claimant has a case worthy of pursuit. Finally, in matters that are relatively complex, it is far better to contact a solicitor for legal assistance.