In 1973, when the Small Claims track for legal proceedings was introduced in the UK, it was suitable for debts up to £75. Over the next 40 years, in England and Wales, that gradually increased to £10,000 and currently £15,000 is being suggested. In Northern Ireland the maximum is £3,000 and in Scotland £5,000. These upper limits are not inflexible, but are guidelines.
A ‘small claim’ is the last resort for an individual or a business seeking to receive payment that is demonstrably overdue from another individual or business, even after several written reminders, the last of which should clearly warn of legal action if no money is forthcoming. Solicitors are not usually employed as the procedure is very simple and their costs cannot be reclaimed anyway. The application form can be completed online in most cases.
The Small Claims track is dealt with at the County Court and is designed to save everyone time and expense. Nevertheless, potential claimants are advised to use it as a final recourse. Where a claim is disputed, the free mediation assistance provided by HM Courts & Tribunal Service can also help to reduce the Court’s workload by bringing both sides to an out-of-court settlement.
(Image: Image Money at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0)