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Money claims – Recovering debt in the UK courts

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If you or your business is owed money by another business or individual, you can make an application to a court to claim the money that you are owed. This is known as making a court claim, and depending on your individual circumstances, there are two main types of court that you can register a claim with – the Small Claims Court and the County or High Court.

The process involved in both types of court are broadly similar. Upon submission of your claim, if a defence is entered, the case is then likely to proceed to a hearing or trial at the defendant's local court. A judge will then decide on the outcome of the case, unless of course an agreement is reached first. Even if you have started court action, it is not too late to try to reach an agreement with the defendant through some form of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. If you try this approach and it doesn’t work, you can then continue with your original court claim.

Small Claims Court cases

The small claims court is designed to provide a low-hassle route to recovering up to £10,000 against a firm or individual. Make sure you've got a solid case before you start though, as new court fees mean you'll now pay twice as much if you lose. The small claims court is informal, with hearings being held quickly. Claims typically involve:

• Both claimant and defendant are expected to represent themselves. You can be represented (eg: by a solicitor) if you wish, but will not be able to recover the costs for this.
• As both parties are less likely to have experience in presenting and arguing their case, Judges are likely to intervene more than in other courts.
• Evidence is not normally given under oath. After the hearing both parties will be sent a copy of the judgment.
• You may be able to claim limited costs for loss of earnings while attending court, travelling and overnight expenses, and the costs of any witnesses and experts - such as a doctor or surveyor.
• At the end of the hearing the judge tells you their decision and briefly explains the reasons behind it.

County Court and High Court cases

Claims made through the County Court or High Court are for amounts higher than £10,000. Cases will take longer to process and the costs involved will be higher. Claims typically involve:

• Procedures are much more formal and the case will normally go to trial in court.
• The claimant and defendant are not expected to represent themselves. The preparation of the case can be complex and there may be witnesses or experts with knowledge of particular aspects of the case called to give evidence.
• Costs are usually awarded, including court fees and legal costs.

Commercial Litigation Funding

If you are thinking about taking legal action against another individual or company but are worried about the costs involved, Advantage Litigation Services have the skills and expertise to help you find a way of funding commercial litigation without risking your personal finances or those of your business. Click here to contact us today or call 0800 160 1298 to see how we can help.

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