Small Claims Court

How does the small claims court work in the UK?

It happens to all of us. We purchase goods or services with an understanding of what we’ll be getting. Then, when the goods arrive or we receive the services, we realise that what we’re given is very different to what we paid for.

Maybe the goods don’t work in the way they’re supposed to, maybe they break soon after we start using them. Or maybe the services you received didn’t include everything you were promised, or perhaps they just didn’t solve the problem you requested them to deal with.

While you may be left wondering what to do, thankfully there is the option of the small claims court.

Small claims do not involve large amounts of money or intricate issues. You can use the small claims court if something’s gone wrong and you need your money back. Small claims are usually for less than £10,000, and the rough rule is that it should take less than a day to resolve.

Here’s what you can use small claims for:

  • Poor service
  • If you are owed a refund
  • A faulty product
  • Landlord disputes
  • Non-payment of wages (see also our employment page)

We’ll be honest with you:  small claims are meant to be simple, and you don’t need a solicitor for most of them. However, we know that often they can become more complicated than anticipated. If that happens, Robertsons Solicitors are always here for you. We can help you to make a formal complaint or use formal mediation to get compensated for your loss.

However, the small claims court still has a number of formalities to follow, and anyone looking to bring their claim needs to understand the processes of the court. While these processes aren’t as complex as those in higher courts, they can still be intimidating to an inexperienced claimant. Add in court costs and the value of your claim, and many claimants don’t feel comfortable pursuing their matter without personal legal assistance. 

How to approach the small claims court

  • You can start a small claim online through the HM Courts and Tribunals Service webpage.
  • Remember that it will be expected of you to try other means of conflict resolution before going to court, even if it is just the small claims court. Therefore, during the application, it will be asked if you first tried other means of conflict resolution.
  • You need the full name and address of the defendant, or if the defendant is a company, the address of its registered office.
  • Set out the reason for your claim and the sum you are claiming.  Once you’ve completed the form, the court will log the document and give you a claim number.
  • Now you must give the defendant a chance to reply to your claim.  The defendant may accept your claim in full or part or explain why they are disputing it.
  • You’ll receive a court date and a Directions Questionnaire, which is directions of what you must do and what the court still needs from both parties to move forward.
  • If you go to court, you will receive a notice of allocation with all the necessary details.
  • In court, you’ll have the chance to go through the details of your case and explain to a judge what happened.   You’ll receive a judgement at the end of your hearing and know if you’ve won or lost.

All of this can be daunting!   Although you don’t need a solicitor for a small claims court application, we’ll be happy to assist.

Small Claims Court FAQs

Ask yourself:  do I have a good chance of winning this?  If not, it may not be worth all the time and effort you put into a small claim court application.  Are you likely to recover any money from your opponent? It may very well be that you can win the case only to find that the defendant has little or no money to pay you.

You can. If the person or company doesn't reply to your claim within fourteen days, you may win the case by default and be awarded the amount you claimed.

This will depend on the value of your claim. Currently, it is between £35 and £455.  There will also be a fee to pay if there is a final hearing.  The current costs can be found on the Government Website. However, if you win your case, it might not cost you anything. Although costs are at the discretion of the Judge, they usually state that you can claim your court fees back from the other side.

Our Expert Team

Our expertise is how we maintain our strong reputation as a law firm.

Meet The Litigation Team