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Legal Advice Small Claims

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  • 1. A guide to the small claims process Small Claims Guide serving the community through the administration of justice Northern Ireland Court Service www.courtsni.gov.uk
  • 2. We can provide this booklet in a wide range of alternative formats - please contact the Information Centre at Northern Ireland Court Service Information Centre Windsor House 9-15 Bedford Street Belfast BT2 7LT Telephone 028 9032 8594 Facsimile 028 9041 2390 Textphone 028 9041 2920 Email informationcentre@courtsni.gov.uk www.courtsni.gov.uk
  • 3. What you will find in this booklet serving the community through the administration of justice 3 Introduction 4 What is a small claim? How do I decide if I should 6 issue a small claim? 11 How do I start? Completing the application 15 form 23 What happens next? 28 What happens if my claim is settled or admitted? What happens if my claim is disputed 31 and / or a counterclaim is issued? 33 What happens if the respondent does not reply? 38 What happens if I have to go to court? 40 Procedures during a hearing
  • 4. 42 The court’s decision 44 I have been successful, what happens now? 47 Who can I ask for advice? Addresses of small claims courts and the 48 Civil Processing Centre 50 List of terms 54 Courts’ Charter
  • 5. Introduction This booklet is designed to explain how the small claims process works and to help you decide whether or not to Introduction use the small claims system. There is further information on the types of claim you can make through the small claims court later in the booklet. Small claims courts allow proceedings you are. certain types of claims to However as a general be decided informally by guide you should read the county court, usually this booklet completely without the need for a before you begin solicitor or barrister. Not proceedings. all claims will result in a court hearing. A list explaining the meaning of terms used The booklet has been in the booklet is divided up into the contained at the back of sections listed on page 1 the book for your to help you find the information. information you require at whatever stage of the www.courtsni.gov.uk page 3
  • 6. What is a small claim? There are a number of things, which will help you to What is a small decide if your claim is a “small claim” and can be dealt claim? with by the small claims process. Excluded Claims In general a small claim There are cases, which is one where the value may seem to fall into the of the claim is not more small claims category but than £2000 which are excluded. Listed below are some of Examples of claims you the most common types can make are: of claims that cannot be made using the small • Claims for debts; claims process: • Claims for faulty goods; • Claims for personal • Claims for injuries; unsatisfactory • Claims in relation to a workmanship; or road traffic accident; • Claims for damage to • Claims for libel or your property. slander; • Claims concerning the title to land; Small Claims Guide page 4
  • 7. • Claims where the Staff in the Office can What is a small matter has been sent help you by explaining by the High Court to claim? the small claims process the county court; to you but cannot give • Claims involving a you legal advice. legacy or annuity; or • Claims in relation to the property of a marriage. There may be other instances when a small claim cannot be used or where an application may only be made with the judge’s permission. If you need further information on excluded claims you can speak to a solicitor, the voluntary consumer advice agencies or the staff in the Small Claims Central Processing Office. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 5
  • 8. How do I decide if I should issue a small claim? The first thing you must do is to decide if issuing a small Should I issue a small claim? claim is the best way for you to proceed. There are a number of points you should consider. Have you tried to settle keep a copy of your your claim with the letter and allow them a respondent directly? week or so to reply. An example is given You may wish to try to opposite, however this is settle your claim directly for guidance only and with the respondent by you will want to write writing to them your own letter stating outlining your claim. If the facts of your case. you do this you should Small Claims Guide page 6
  • 9. 1 New Street Should I issue a Anytown small claim? 1 September 2004 Dear Sir On the 1 August 2004 I bought a suite of furniture from your firm for £1250. Within one month the cushions on the settee had lost their shape completely and are now so bad that it is uncomfortable to sit on any of the seats. I have telephoned your shop on several occasions and spoken to the receptionist. She has not been able to locate any salesperson to speak to me and has taken my number and complaint to pass on to them. To date I have had no contact from any member of your sales team. Your firm is responsible for the goods you sell and I am not prepared to accept the suite in this condition. I should be pleased to hear from you as soon as possible. Yours faithfully Mrs Smith www.courtsni.gov.uk page 7
  • 10. If you do not receive a advising that you intend Should I issue a reply or if the reply you to start legal small claim? get is not satisfactory it proceedings if your would be reasonable for claim is not settled you to write again satisfactorily. 1 New Street Anytown 10 September 2004 Dear Sir I have not received a reply to my letter of the 1st September, in which I explained the problem with my suite of furniture. Unless I hear from you within 7 days I intend to begin a small claims action to recover the cost of the goods without any further notice. Yours faithfully Mrs Smith Small Claims Guide page 8
  • 11. If you still do not The court does not pay Should I issue a receive a satisfactory small claim? the amount that is response you may wish awarded, it only decides to consider issuing a who is liable. small claim. If you are successful in The Enforcement of your claim will you be Judgments Office (EJO), able to recover the is part of the Northern money? Ireland Court Service and will help you to This is perhaps the most recover the amount important question you claimed by enforcing should ask before any decree that you are deciding to proceed granted. They have a with a small claim. Even separate procedure and if you succeed in your you will need to contact claim, if the respondent them for further has no money to pay information about their the amount of the claim fees and forms. you may not get your money. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 9
  • 12. Before you begin a The Enforcement of Should I issue a small claim you should Judgments Office small claim? know that the EJO can 7th Floor make a search against a Bedford House possible debtor for a 16-22 Bedford Street small fee. This will Belfast show whether the BT2 7DS respondent already Phone: (028) 9024 5081 owes any money to Fax: (028) 9031 3520 other people. You can then use this information to help you decide whether or not to issue your small claim. You can contact the EJO at: Small Claims Guide page 10
  • 13. How do I start? Having considered the previous section you will be able to How do I start? make your decision about whether or not to issue a small claim. Below are some other points you may want to consider before you begin. Where can you get an and address(es) are as application form? accurate as possible. Examples of completed You can get an forms are given later in application form from this booklet together your nearest: with guidance on how to complete your form. • Court office; • Citizens Advice You can issue your small Bureau; claim for the small • Trading Standards claims court in the Office; or county court division • Local advice centre. where either you or the respondent live or carry You should fill in an on business – it is your application form, choice. If you are in making sure that the doubt about which respondent’s name(s) court to issue your Small Claims can now be lodged on-line at www.courtsni.gov.uk www.courtsni.gov.uk page 11
  • 14. application form for and one for each How do I start? then contact the court respondent), to the staff and they will be Civil Processing able to help you. Centre with the appropriate fee. The If the respondent lives address is at the back of outside Northern Ireland this booklet. You can you can still issue a small get copies of the current claim against them fees from court offices. using the process and You should make forms described in this cheques or postal booklet. There is more orders payable to “The information on this later Northern Ireland Court in the booklet when we Service”. You can deal with completing also pay the fee by most the forms. debit or credit cards at any court office. You must not send the application form directly What type of proof do to the respondent. Your you have, for example: completed form should invoices, receipts, be brought or sent, with written agreements or copies (one for yourself other documents? Small Claims Guide page 12
  • 15. You may have their evidence should be How do I start? documents which given in the form of a support your claim and written report unless which you intend to use the judge directs to prove your case. You otherwise. If a written must submit copies of report is to be used then these with your this must be lodged in application form to the the court office 14 days Civil Processing before any court Centre. hearing. The court will then serve this report on Any party may, if they the other party and may wish, use an expert set a new hearing date. witness to support their case, for example, if the At any time before claim was for bad deciding on the case the workmanship in fitting judge may ask for an windows a party may expert to be consulted. consult another firm to give their opinion on the work carried out. Either party may consult expert witnesses and www.courtsni.gov.uk page 13
  • 16. Do you have any hearing. The process How do I start? witnesses who will involved in this is support your claim? explained later in this booklet. You may not need to go to court to settle your It is important that you claim but if you do and remember that you will you have witnesses who have to pay any witness will support your claim expenses, for example, you should try to travelling expenses. arrange for them to They cannot be added come to court to the amount of your voluntarily. claim. If they will not agree to come to court you can contact the Civil Processing Centre or court and ask to issue a witness summons requiring their attendance at the court Small Claims Guide page 14
  • 17. Completing the application form It is important to give all the necessary information. This application form Completing the will assist in processing your claim and will make it easier to enforce a decree if one is granted. telephone number to When completing the assist the Civil small claim application Processing Centre in form you will notice contacting you. there are five main areas (see the examples It is important to make at the back of this sure that the correct booklet). person is making the claim, for example, the person to whom the Applicant debt is owed, the person who bought the This section is for your faulty goods, or the personal details. Here person who ordered the you should enter your work to be carried out name and address should be the one to including postcode and make the claim. your e-mail address if Likewise the person applicable. You may whose property has also wish to give your been damaged or who www.courtsni.gov.uk page 15
  • 18. leased the premises enter his or her full application form Completing the should be the one forenames and surname making the claim. and home address (including the postcode Respondent and e-mail address if applicable). This section is for the details of the person, If the respondent is a firm or company against limited or public liability whom you are making company (Ltd or plc) the claim. It is you should enter the important that you full name of the ensure that the company, including ‘Ltd’ information you give in or ‘plc’, as the this section is accurate. respondent, rather than You should check that a named employee. The the name and address full postal address of you have for the the company’s respondent is correct registered office should before you begin your be entered. A company small claim. registered outside Northern Ireland may If the respondent is an have an address to individual you should which documents may Small Claims Guide page 16
  • 19. be sent in Northern the firm. For example application form Completing the Ireland. These addresses ‘Smith & Son sued as a can be obtained from firm’. the Companies Registry. The address and When claiming against a telephone number of respondent who trades the Companies Registry in a name other than his can be found on page or her own you should 47. enter the name of the respondent followed by When claiming against a the words ‘trading as’ business or a firm other and the full postal than a plc or Ltd address of the company, you may respondent. For either enter the name(s) example, ‘Joe Soap and full postal trading as A1 Furniture’ address(es) of the or ‘Smith & Jones Ltd owner(s) of the firm or, trading as Smith Ices’. alternatively, enter the name of the firm followed by the words ‘sued as a firm’ and the full postal address of www.courtsni.gov.uk page 17
  • 20. Respondents who reside statement. If necessary, application form Completing the outside Northern you must pay the cost of Ireland translating any It is possible for a small documents relevant to claim to be sent to a the application. The respondent outside Office then attempts to Northern Ireland. The serve the papers by post service procedures and or by personal service method of enforcement depending on where of any decree awarded the respondent resides / are unique to each carries on business. If country. You may wish service by a process to contact the Civil server is required, you Processing Centre for may be required to pay advice. further fees. You (the applicant) must sign a statement that you have not issued any other application in relation to this claim. The Office can provide an example of this Small Claims Guide page 18
  • 21. The amount of the claim The particulars of the application form Completing the claim This must not exceed £2000 unless you clearly In this section you state on the form that should set out the facts you intend to “abandon of your case clearly and the excess” – this means simply. For example: that you agree to limit • When did the claim your claim to £2000 arise? even though the • What goods / amount of the claim is services were over that. Even if you provided? are unsure of the • When did you buy amount you wish to the goods / services / claim you must estimate have your property a figure and insert it on damaged? the form. • What went wrong? If you need more space than that given on the form you should continue on a separate page. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 19
  • 22. Interest If you are claiming application form Completing the Not every case will have interest you must state a claim for interest but this clearly on the if you do wish to claim application form and interest you must you should enter the include this on your amount, rate and period application form. of the claim for interest. Interest is an amount The £2000 limit applies added to the claim from only to the claim and the date the claim arose the inclusion of interest and can be claimed until or the court fee may the date of the decree. take the claim over the At present the £2000 limit. applicable court rate is 8% per year but you may wish to check this before you issue your claim. This rate can be used unless the claim arises from a contract which specifies an alternative rate. Small Claims Guide page 20
  • 23. Example 8% of £1000 = £80 application form Completing the Set out below is a which is the interest for simple example of how 1 year on this claim to calculate the amount of interest: £80 ÷ 365 = £0.21 which is the daily rate of Amount of claim interest on this claim £1000 £0.21 X 115 = £24.15 Interest rate per year which is the interest on (365 days) 8% this claim from 1.4.04 to 24.7.04. Interest claimed from 1.4.04 when the money Statement of Truth became owing until the date the claim is issued Once you have 24.7.04 inclusive 115 days completed your application form you To work out the interest must print, then sign you will need to carry your name and enter out the following the date at the calculation: appropriate place. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 21
  • 24. application form Completing the You should be aware that anyone signing this statement of truth must believe that the facts stated in the form are true. If you sign this form knowing that part or parts of it are untrue then you may be held in contempt of court and may face a fine or imprisonment. Small Claims Guide page 22
  • 25. What happens next? Once you have lodged your application form in the What happens Civil Processing Centre a number of things will happen. next? Step 1 this is given later in this Staff will check that the booklet. fee you have sent is A liquidated claim is correct and that the one which has a fixed form contains all the amount of money relevant information. If attached to it, for there are any difficulties example, a loan, goods with the form they will not paid for etc. return it to you setting out the amendments or An unliquidated claim is further details required. one where the amount They will then decide if you are claiming is an your claim is a estimation of the liquidated or amount due, for unliquidated amount. example, damage to This decision will property, faulty determine the workmanship, faulty procedure followed for goods you have used or had in your possession your claim and a more for a time. detailed explanation of www.courtsni.gov.uk page 23
  • 26. Step 2 “Applicants Information What happens The staff in the Office Pack” which gives you will then send the information and next? respondent a copy of guidance on applying the application form for a decree if the with the return date respondent fails to reply marked on it. They will by the return date. also send the respondent a You should read all of “Respondents the documents sent to Information Pack” you by the Office which gives them carefully before information and submitting any forms guidance on the for a decree. procedures to be followed. The Office will at the same time send you a copy of the application form with the return date marked on it. They will also send you an Small Claims Guide page 24
  • 27. Step 3 The next step will be What happens At this stage there are determined by what the various choices available respondent chooses to next? to the respondent: do and a number of other factors. You may • They can settle the wish to consult the claim directly with overview diagram on you; the next page to give • They can admit you an idea of the route liability for the which your claim may claim; follow. • They can dispute liability for the claim; • They can counterclaim; or • They might ignore the claim. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 25
  • 28. Overview Diagram of the Small Clai Application received by C Overview Diagram Civil Processing Centre identifie Copy application sent to respondent with respondents information pack After return da Liquidated Claims Notice of dispute Acceptance of liability No reply from and / or counterclaim received respondent received Applicant complet List case for for a D Court hearing Court decision Applicant declaration Decree issues Accept terms Refuse terms Decree (with Stay) Court determines rate Decree (with Stay) Please note: Settlement of Claim can occ Small Claims Guide page 26
  • 29. im Process (Application to Decree) ivil Processing Centre Overview Diagram es return date and type of claim Copy also sent to applicant with applicants information pack te has passed Unliquidated Claims No reply from Acceptance of liability Notice of dispute respondent received and / or counterclaim received tes an application Applicant declaration ecree Accept terms Refuse terms Court hearing Decree (with Stay) Court determines rate Court decision Assessment decree Decree (with Stay) issues Court determines Assessment hearing amount of decree ur at any time throughout the process www.courtsni.gov.uk page 27
  • 30. What happens if my claim is settled or admitted? My claim is settled lodge an “Acceptance of Claim is settled or admitted? If you settle the claim Liability” form with the with the respondent Civil Processing and want to withdraw Centre before the return the application, you date. They may ask for should inform the time to pay the amount Civil Processing due. The Office will Centre immediately in send you a copy of this writing. form together with a “Declaration following The settlement should receipt of Notice of include the court fee. If Acceptance of Liability” the respondent is form. unwilling to pay the fee and you want it back, You should choose one you can continue with option, either: your application to recover this. • Accept the terms proposed - in which My claim is admitted case the Office will If the respondent issue a decree with a accepts responsibility for stay of execution; or your claim they should Small Claims Guide page 28
  • 31. • Ask for the matter of execution on them so Claim is settled or admitted? to be considered by you should read yours the judge to carefully when you determine the receive it. An example reasonable of the wording of this is weekly / monthly given below: amount to be paid by the respondent. A stay of execution is granted provided the and return the form to respondent pays to the the Civil Processing applicant the sum of Centre. £50 per month commencing on the Stay of Execution 1st November 2004. If the respondent has asked for time to pay You should remember the amount due to you, that it is in your interest and this has been that you recover any granted by the chief amount owed to you. clerk or the judge, the This may be best terms will be clearly achieved by allowing stated on the decree the respondent time to you receive. Not all pay the amount. decrees will have a stay www.courtsni.gov.uk page 29
  • 32. Should the respondent The staff in the Civil Claim is settled or admitted? fail to comply with the Processing Centre will be terms of the stay of able to help you with execution and you wish this should it apply to to enforce your decree your decree. There is also through the Enforcement further information of Judgments Office you about this later in the will need to apply to the booklet. chief clerk to remove the stay of execution. This is done by signing a document containing a statement of truth declaring that the respondent has failed to comply with the terms of the stay and stating the amount now due to you. Small Claims Guide page 30
  • 33. What happens if my claim is disputed and / or a counterclaim is issued? If the respondent ‘Notice of Hearing’ counterclaim issued which will inform you of returns a ‘Notice of Disputed or the date, time and place Dispute and / or of the court hearing. If Counterclaim’ to the you have difficulty in Civil Processing attending court on the Centre at any time then date given you should your case will be listed contact the court office before the judge for a immediately and explain court hearing. The the situation to them. respondent may also They may be able to apply to bring in further offer an alternative parties to the small date. claim if they wish. You will be informed of this You must attend the if it happens in your court hearing if your case. claim is disputed and / or a counterclaim is You will be sent a copy issued. You should also of this notice received bring with you any from the respondent witnesses, original that will outline the documents, details of the dispute photographs etc. that and / or counterclaim. you intend to use to You will also receive a support your claim. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 31
  • 34. If it is possible you counterclaim issued should also bring the Disputed or damaged goods with you, for example, if your claim is for damage to clothes while being dry-cleaned you should bring the clothes with you. Small Claims Guide page 32
  • 35. What happens if the respondent does not reply? A respondent does If the respondent does not lodge a reply to the application by the return date then you are entitled to not reply proceed and apply for a decree. It may be advisable to wait a short period of time after the return date before submitting your application for a decree, this will allow for any postal delays in receiving the respondent’s reply and forwarding this on to you. Liquidated Civil Processing If the Civil Processing Centre, where it will be Centre has assigned your checked. Your claim as liquidated then application will then be you should follow the put before the chief instructions in your clerk. If everything is information pack and satisfactory a decree will apply for a decree. You be sent to you. A copy will have to complete of the decree will also the application form be sent to the stating the amount that respondent. is then due. You should bring or send this form to the www.courtsni.gov.uk page 33
  • 36. Unliquidated A respondent does stating that the amount If the Civil Processing of the claim is to be not reply Centre has assigned your assessed by the judge claim as unliquidated will be sent to you. A then you should follow copy of the decree will the instructions in your also be sent to the information pack and respondent. The court apply for a decree. This office will send both will mean completing parties a ‘Notice of the application form Hearing’ stating the stating that the amount date, time and place of is to be assessed by the the assessment hearing. district judge. Information about what will happen at an You should bring or assessment hearing is send this form to the provided later in this Civil Processing booklet. Centre where it will be checked. Your application will then be put before the chief clerk. If everything is satisfactory a decree Small Claims Guide page 34
  • 37. Exclusions Civil Processing A respondent does An application for a Centre. A court hearing not reply decree using the forms date will be allocated in the information pack and the judge will cannot be issued in the decide the case. There following cases: may be other circumstances when an • Where the applicant application for a decree is a minor (under 18 must be approved by years of age); or the judge. The Office or • Where the applicant court will advise you if is a patient (a person this applies to your case. who has been certified as mentally If the respondent incapable of contacts the Civil managing their own Processing Centre or financial affairs). court, after any decree has issued, stating that If either of these they did not receive the apply to the application or did not respondent in your case receive it in sufficient you must advise the time to reply, or for any www.courtsni.gov.uk page 35
  • 38. other reason they did The parties will be A respondent does not reply in time then notified by the court not reply they will be advised to of any order made issue an application by the judge; or asking that the decree be set aside. You will • Fix a date for be sent a copy of the hearing this application and will be application to set invited to reply in aside the decree. writing to it within 14 The parties will be days. The judge may notified of this date either: and invited to attend. The court • Decide that there is will also send to the a valid reason for parties a copy of any the failure to reply order the judge and may set the makes after dealing decree aside without with an application a court hearing and of this type. may give a direction on how the case is to proceed. Small Claims Guide page 36
  • 39. Likewise if the A respondent does If the decree is set aside respondents not reply you must return to the documentation is court the decree that returned to the Civil was issued. The court Processing Centre by the staff will advise you on post office, and it is the next step to be clear that the taken, for example, respondent was not providing a new aware of the claim address, attending a being made, then the hearing etc. Office will ask the judge to revoke any decree that has been made and will contact you to supply additional information, for example, a new address for the respondent. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 37
  • 40. What happens if I have to go to court? All court hearings will be informal although you may be have to go to court? What happens if I asked to take a religious oath or affirm before giving the facts of your case. The small claims process What should I do if a is designed so that you witness does not agree do not need a solicitor to come to court? For a small fee the or barrister to represent you. If you do choose Civil Processing to engage one, and Centre or court can give even if you win your you a witness summons, case, you will be which requires a witness responsible for paying to come to the hearing. their cost as these You can deliver this cannot be added to summons to the witness your claim. yourself or have it delivered by a process As mentioned before server or by your you may have witnesses solicitor. With a witness present at the court summons you should hearing and you should give the witness a sum try to arrange for them of money - either £12.15 to attend voluntarily. for a police officer or Small Claims Guide page 38
  • 41. £17.12 for a civilian have to go to court? What happens if I together with a reasonable sum to cover their travelling expenses. Even if you win your case, you may not be able to recover these fees and expenses from the respondent. The amounts mentioned here may change and you should check with the staff in the Civil Processing Centre. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 39
  • 42. Procedures during a hearing If your claim has are any. You can Procedures during been disputed and / or prepare for this by a hearing a counterclaim has been studying the issued. respondent’s reply on The judge will explain the notice of dispute how your case is to be (and counterclaim, if heard – this may vary relevant) and by from one court to preparing questions in another. Both sides will advance. You may take be asked to tell their notes of what the version of the facts of respondent and his or the case and both will her witnesses say to be questioned directly. assist you in challenging Remember that the anything with which judge will make a you do not agree. The decision based on the respondent will also be facts. given the opportunity to question you and your You will get an witnesses. opportunity to put questions to the When all the parties and respondent and to his or witnesses have been her witnesses if there heard the judge will Small Claims Guide page 40
  • 43. usually make a decision assessment hearing. You Procedures during there and then. But should attend the a hearing before making a hearing to help the decision the judge may judge assess the amount wish to inspect, or of your claim. The obtain an expert report respondent may or may on, the property or item not attend. If the in question. respondent intends to appear at the assessment hearing they If your claim has to must notify the court be assessed. and the other parties of You will need to attend this in writing. court if your claim has been assigned as If your claim is for an unliquidated and the unliquidated amount judge is required to and disputed and / or a assess the amount of counterclaim has been your claim. This is called issued then the judge an assessment hearing. will deal with these The court will inform matters together at the you and the respondent hearing. of the date of the www.courtsni.gov.uk page 41
  • 44. The court’s decision If your claim is If the respondent has successful. issued a counterclaim The court’s decision The respondent will against you and the have to pay you the judge decides the amount decided by the counterclaim in the judge, the application respondent’s favour fee and any other costs then you will be awarded by the judge. ordered to pay the You and the respondent respondent an amount will receive a copy of of money as well as the the decree in the post, a fee they paid for issuing few days after the the counterclaim. You hearing. This will state may also be required to the amount of money pay other costs awarded awarded by the judge. by the judge. You and the respondent will If you are not successful. receive a copy of the If the judge decides decree in the post, a against you, the few days after the respondent will not be hearing. This will state ordered to pay you the order of the court anything, and you won’t given by the judge. get the application fee back that you paid. Small Claims Guide page 42
  • 45. advice in detailing the The court does not pay basis of your appeal. The court’s the amount that is decision awarded, it only decides who is liable. Appeals For proceedings commenced on or after 19 April 2004, any party may appeal on a question of law to a judge against any order. An appeal shall be brought within 21 days from the date on which the order was made. The judge is not required to conduct a hearing to determine the appeal and his decision is final. You may wish to seek legal www.courtsni.gov.uk page 43
  • 46. I have been successful, what happens now? If you have been Enforcement of successful you will now Judgments Office (EJO). I have been successful have received a decree. Where the decree The decree will contain requires the respondent the order stating the to take any action, for amount of the claim example, to repair or that the respondent replace goods and he should pay to you and fails to do so within the the payment terms if a time specified you stay of execution was should advise the court granted. in writing and ask that the case be re-listed What happens if the before the judge. The respondent does not court will notify you of comply with the order? the date for the hearing The respondent should when you can explain pay you this amount the position to the within a reasonable judge. time, usually between 14 and 28 days is If your decree does not considered acceptable. contain a stay of If they do not, you may execution, then you may apply to have your apply to the EJO to have decree enforced your decree enforced. through the Small Claims Guide page 44
  • 47. Separate forms, or you can get an procedures and fees are information leaflet from I have been successful used to enforce your any small claims court. decree. You can obtain Contact information is information on the EJO provided on page 48. via the Court Service Website at If your decree does www.courtsni.gov.uk contain a stay of where you will find execution you will need application forms, to sign a document current fees charged by containing a statement the EJO, frequently of truth stating the asked questions, and amount that has been other useful paid, if any, and the information. You can outstanding balance. also email queries or Once you do this you questions to the EJO at will need to bring or PostRoomEJO@courtsni. send it to the Civil gov.uk. Your query will Processing Centre or be passed to one of our court where you customer liaison officers attended for hearing who will reply to you. If together with your you do not have original decree. You Internet or email access, will then be issued with you can contact the EJO a decree stating that the at the address on P.10 stay has been removed www.courtsni.gov.uk page 45
  • 48. this will enable you to I have been proceed to successful enforcement through the EJO. Please note: A decree or order made by the small claims court is a CCJ (County Court Judgment) and may affect a respondent’s credit status. Small Claims Guide page 46
  • 49. Who can I ask for advice? There are a number of voluntary organisations that can Who can I ask for help you with advice on issuing a small claim. You can advice? also speak to a solicitor but remember any costs you incur in doing this will have to be met by yourself. Northern Ireland For information on Association Citizens registered companies Advice Bureaux contact: 11 Upper Crescent Belfast BT7 1NT Companies Registry 1st Floor Phone: (028) 9023 1120 Waterfront Plaza Fax: (028) 9023 6522 8 Laganbank Road E-mail: info@niacab.org Belfast BT1 3BS Phone: 0845 604 88 88 Association of Fax: (028) 9090 5291 Independent Advice E-mail: Centres info.companiesregistry@ 1 Rushfield Avenue detini.gov.uk Belfast BT7 3FP Phone: (028) 9064 5919 Fax: (028) 9049 2313 E-mail: info@aiac.net www.courtsni.gov.uk page 47
  • 50. Addresses of small claims courts and the Civil Processing Centre claims courts & CPO Addresses of small The staff in courts and the Civil Processing Centre can also help you, but they are not allowed to give you advice on whether or not you should issue a claim, they will only help in completing forms or explaining the procedure to you. Antrim Court Office Coleraine Court Office The Courthouse The Courthouse 30 Castle Way, Antrim 46a Mountsandel Road, BT41 4AQ Coleraine BT52 1NY Phone: (028) 9446 2661 Phone: (028) 7034 3437 Fax: (028) 9446 3301 Fax: (028) 7032 0156 Armagh Court Office Craigavon Court Office The Courthouse The The Courthouse Mall, Armagh BT61 9DJ Central Way, Craigavon Phone: (028) 3752 2816 BT64 1AP Fax: (028) 3752 8194 Phone: (028) 3834 1324 Fax: (028) 3834 1243 Belfast County Court Office Downpatrick Court Laganside Courts Office 45 Oxford Street, The Courthouse Belfast BT1 3LL 21 English Street, Phone: (028) 9032 6260 Downpatrick BT30 6AB Fax: (028) 9031 3771 Phone: (028) 4461 4621 Fax: (028) 4461 3969 Small Claims Guide page 48
  • 51. Enniskillen Court Office Newry Court Office claims courts & CPO Addresses of small The Courthouse The Courthouse 17 East Bridge Street, 23 New Street, Newry Enniskillen BT35 6JD BT74 7BW Phone: (028) 3025 2040 Phone: (028) 6632 2356 Fax: (028) 3026 9830 Fax: (028) 6632 3636 Newtownards Court Office Lisburn Court Office The Courthouse Railway Street Regent Street, Lisburn Newtownards BT28 1XR BT23 4LP Phone: (028) 9267 5336 Phone: (028) 9181 4343 Fax: (028) 9260 4107 Fax: (028) 9181 8024 Londonderry Court Small Claims Civil Office Processing Centre The Courthouse PO Box 882 Bishop Street, Royal Courts of Justice Londonderry Belfast BT48 6PQ Phone: (028) 7136 3448 BT1 3JF Fax: (028) 7137 2059 Phone: (028) 9072 4566 or (028) 9072 4563 Fax: (028) 9072 5956 Email: civilprocessingcentre@courtsni.gov.uk www.courtsni.gov.uk page 49
  • 52. List of terms Throughout this booklet, in court forms and if you attend court for a hearing there may be unfamiliar terms used. List of Terms To help you we have listed below some of the most common of these together with an explanation. Acceptance of Liability Applicant This is when the The person making a respondent admits claim. liability for the claim. The respondent Application completes a form The form the applicant admitting the claim to uses to begin the case. the applicant. It may or may not include a Assessment Hearing request to allow time This is a hearing at to pay the amount which the judge will claimed. decide on the amount of the claim. Appeal A proceeding brought Counterclaim to a higher court for A claim made by the review of a lower court respondent in reply to decision. the applicant’s claim Small Claims Guide page 50
  • 53. which is not a defence Liquidated Claim to that claim. It is a One which has a fixed List of Terms separate but related amount of money claim against the attached to it, for applicant, which is dealt example, a debt for with at the same time as goods supplied or for a the applicant’s claim. loan. The Civil Processing Centre will Decree decide if your claim is Written order made in a liquidated. small claim. Notice of Dispute Fee This is a form completed This is the amount of by the respondent when money paid by the disputing responsibility applicant to start the for the claim. small claims process or Party the amount paid by the This can mean either the respondent to issue a applicant or the counterclaim. The respondent. successful party can usually add the fee paid to the amount of the decree. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 51
  • 54. Respondent Small Claims Court The person against A court which deals List of Terms whom the claim is with small claims. made. Statement of Truth Return Date This is the declaration This is the date by which that the contents of the a respondent must document are true. either submit a form Proceedings for accepting liability or a contempt of court may notice of dispute and / be brought against a or counterclaim. It will person who makes, or be clearly marked on causes to be made, a the application form by false statement in a the Central Processing document verified by a Office. statement of truth without an honest belief Small Claims Civil in its truth. Processing Centre The office where the application for a small claim is processed. Small Claims Guide page 52
  • 55. Stay of Execution This is the term used to List of Terms describe a decree that is made allowing the respondent time to pay the amount of the claim. Unliquidated Claim One which has an estimated amount of money attached to it, for example, for damage caused to property, for repairs for damage caused or for faulty workmanship. The Civil Processing Centre will decide if your claim is unliquidated. www.courtsni.gov.uk page 53
  • 56. Courts’ Charter When you come to When you phone a Courts’ Charter court, you can expect: court office, you can • the court building to expect: be open by 9.00am; • your call to be • the offices to be open answered within 30 to the public normally seconds; from 9.30am to • to be given the name 1.00pm and from of the court official; 2.00pm to 4.30pm; and • polite and helpful • the court official to staff; and be clear and helpful. • clear signs. When you write to the When you go to a court, we will: public counter, we will: • acknowledge receipt • respect your privacy of your letter and and discuss any send you a reply confidential business within 15 working in private; and days; and • see you within 10 • give the name of a minutes and if you court official and have to wait longer, a contact telephone member of staff will number. explain why. Small Claims Guide page 54
  • 57. Helping us improve our member of Court Service Courts’ Charter service staff or contact the We want to know how Information Centre at you think we have done the address on the back and your suggestions on of this publication. how we might improve. There are comment Other information cards in the main hall of There are copies of each building. other Courts’ Charter leaflets on our work in Disabled court users every building. If you The Customer Service need more information Officer or any other about our work, you can member of Court Service contact the Information staff will be able to give Centre at the address on you information about the back of this the facilities that are publication. available for disabled people. A separate Complaints leaflet ‘Customers with The Northern Ireland Disabilities’ is also Court Service respects available. To obtain a the views of all court copy of this leaflet ask a users. A separate leaflet www.courtsni.gov.uk page 55
  • 58. ‘Making a complaint Courts’ Charter about the Northern Ireland Court Service’ provides information on how to make a complaint. To obtain a copy of this leaflet ask a member of Court Service staff or contact the address on the back of this publication. If you ask, we will give you the appropriate forms and show you how to fill them in. We cannot give you legal advice or tell you what to say. Small Claims Guide page 56
  • 59. Example of an application form Form 125 Order 26 Rule 5 NOTICE OF APPLICATION FOR A SMALL CLAIM For Office Use Only Claim No. Part A Liquidated/Unliquidated Applicant: Respondent: Full name and postal address, postcode Full name and postal address and e-mail address (if appropriate) and e-mail address (if appropriate) in BLOCK CAPITALS in BLOCK CAPITALS Mrs Joan Smith Mr Al Wrong 1 New Street T/A Sofa So Good Anytown 101 Dalmation Road BT11 1AA Anytown BT11 1BB Take notice that I, the above named applicant, intend to apply to the Small Claims Court at _Anytown Courthouse, Sometown Road, Anytown BT11 2BB__ for a decree in respect of :- My claim for £_1250.00____________ Interest * £_0.00_______________ The court fee £_62.00______________ Total £_1312.00____________ *Only include a figure if you wish to claim interest and you have given details of the rate and the period covered. Please describe in simple terms details of your claim: - also include the date the debt arose and, if interest is claimed, the amount rate and period covered. I bought a suite of furniture from the respondent’s shop on the 1 August 2004 for £1250.00 Within the first month the cushions on the settee lost their shape and are now so bad that it is uncomfortable to sit on any of the seats. I have tried to contact the respondent but he has ignored all of my correspondence. I would like my money refunded so that I can arrange to buy a replacement suite from another firm. Statement of Truth I believe that the facts stated in this form are true. Full Name ___Joan Smith__________ Position or Office Held ______________________ (if signing on behalf of firm or company) Signed: ______________________ Date: __1 November 2004______
  • 60. Example of an application form Form 125 Order 26 Rule 5 NOTICE OF APPLICATION FOR A SMALL CLAIM For Office Use Only Claim No. Part A Liquidated/Unliquidated Applicant: Respondent: Full name and postal address, postcode Full name and postal address and e-mail address (if appropriate) and e-mail address (if appropriate) in BLOCK CAPITALS in BLOCK CAPITALS Eastern Bank Mr Norman Oliver Cash 10 Money Lane 1 Old Street Anytown Anytown BT11 1AA BT11 1BB Take notice that I, the above named applicant, intend to apply to the Small Claims Court at _Anytown Courthouse, Sometown Road, Anytown BT11 2BB__ for a decree in respect of :- My claim for £_1050.00____________ Interest* £_14.26______________ The court fee £_62.00______________ Total £_1126.26____________ *Only include a figure if you wish to claim interest and you have given details of the rate and the period covered. Please describe in simple terms details of your claim: - also include the date the debt arose and, if interest is claimed, the amount rate and period covered. The above respondent entered into a loan agreement with our bank on the 1st July 2004 in the amount of £1050.00. The first repayment of £50.00 was due to be made on the 1st September and further repayments on the 1st day of each month thereafter. To date we have received no payments from Mr Cash despite several reminders. We would like an order made against Mr Cash for the amount of £1126.26 This is made up as follows. Original Loan £1050.00 Interest at 8 % from 1.9.04 to 1.11.04 (62 days) £14.26 Court Fee £62.00 Total £1126.26 Statement of Truth I believe that the facts stated in this form are true. Full Name ___Alan Jones__________ Position or Office Held __Loans Manager __ (if signing on behalf of firm or company) Signed: ______________________ Date: __1 November 2004______
  • 61. serving the community through the administration of justice
  • 62. For further information on the work of the Northern Ireland Court Service please contact Northern Ireland Court Service Information Centre Windsor House Bedford Street Belfast BT2 7LT Telephone 028 9032 8594 Facsimile 028 9041 2390 Textphone 028 9041 2920 Email informationcentre@courtsni.gov.uk www.courtsni.gov.uk April 2005