How to make a successful claim in the small claims court?

If you’ve reached the end of the road with a company that just won’t listen then you may need to consider legal action through the small claims court to get money back or compensation.

Small claims court claims are generally simple cases, which do not involve large amounts of money or complicated issues.​

If you’ve reached the end of the road with a company that just won’t listen then you may need to consider legal action through the small claims court to get money back or compensation.

Small claims court claims are generally simple cases, which do not involve large amounts of money or complicated issues.

When can you use the small claims court?

You can make a claim for a number of reasons including poor service, refunds, monies owed, landlord disputes, injuries and faulty products.

In the UK you have up to 6 years after you paid for the product or service to make a claim and claims can be up to £10,000.

In the USA, the limit is $10,000. Each state has statutes of limitations and the time within which you must file a claim varies according to the type of claim and also from state to state. Do your background research to establish processes and limitations in your area. Specific information can be located via Nolo.com.

How to submit a claim with the small claims court?

Follow the next 10 steps make a successfull claim. Also keep in mind.. any kind of legal action should be as a last resort.

  1. Consider the use of Alternate Dispute Resolution services and seek advice on options for mediation.
  1. It might help to file your complaint on our website, a public complaint increases the chances of a company taking it more seriously. Complaints can be processed through our platform and the complaint serves to warn or get advice from people experiencing similar issues.
  1. A letter before action is required before filing a claim in the small claims court and the defendant should be given the chance to submit a defence within a 14-day response period if they dispute it.
  1. Before initiating any claim, establish potential costs and fees involved, the probability of success and how likely you are to receive monies owed should you win. Taking legal advice to gauge success and establish whether your claim is valid before proceeding is advisable. Guidance is also readily available from small claims advisors (USA) and Citizen’s Advice (UK).
  1. Gathering evidence to support your case is key to success in the small claims court. This can be in the form of invoices, witness statements, telephone records, estimates, demands, testimonies, photos, contracts, letters and emails. Compile a clear written chronological timeline of events pertaining to your case and include original documents not copies where possible.
  1. Ensure you have complied with all pre action steps and claim processes. In the UK, these are set out in ‘Practice Direction and Pre Action Conduct.’ In the USA, follow instructions on the SC100 Information Sheet for the Small Claims Plaintiff.
  1. Adhere to all deadlines for submission of all documents and evidence responses timely and use certified mail if specified. Claimants are required to file a Proof of Service to show which documents were served, on whom, when and how.
  1. Complete all necessary forms diligently online or obtain claims forms from the courthouse. In the UK, Form 180 is a Directions Questionnaire, which is sent out to defendants and claimants so that the judge can give instructions to both parties.
  1. In the USA you may be required to complete a local form named ‘Plaintiff’s Statement to the Court.’ Declaration Form MC-030 can be used to provide further details or witness statements.
  1. Clearly identify relevant parties and check grammar, spellings, commas, abbreviations and business entity descriptions are accurate.

In summary, leave no stone unturned in the preparation and submission of your case. For the best chance of success with your small claims court claim, be precise, prompt, polite, pragmatic and proactive.

Lady Janey

Lady Janey

Queen of Customer Service, Travel Expert, Presenter Travel Radio & Author showcasing the best companies and challenging the worst!

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