Whilst few small claims cases get reported, principally because most are settled and/or the value of such claims means it is not financially viable to dispute judgments based on technical grounds, it’s also true to say that, in numerical terms, the vast majority of cases are small claims.
This is especially the case now that the small claims court threshold has been raised to £10,000.00 from it’s previous level of £5,000.00. Even more claims will now be in the small claims court.
The most obvious implication of small claims is the general no-costs rule. there are clear advantages of this in enabling individuals and small businesses to worry a lot less about the prospect of facing a huge costs order as either claimant or defendant. It also means that many parties in a small claims dispute will not instruct lawyers, knowing that costs will be irrecoverable.
Law in the small claims court
Another important facet of the small claims court is streamlined process and a more interventionist approach by the District Judge. This is important because the court knows that in many cases, both parties won’t have legal advice, so most small claims matters are decided more on the facts than the law.
however, with an increased financial threshold for small claims, many more small claims will be of a value between £5,000.00-£10,000.00. Whether for a small business or individual, a dispute over that amount is important.
Will more claimants or defendants seek legal advice ?
My belief is that there will be an increase in claimants or defendants taking limited legal advice for claims between £5,000.o0 to £10,000.00. As stated above, in most cases in my experience, technical legal points and arguments are not to the fore in many small claims trials. This does not mean that the law doesn’t apply to such claims. Consequently, there is nothing to stop either claimant or defendant from raising such arguments, and if the other party is unrepresented and doesn’t even understand the point, so be it (although the District Judge will generally try to clarify and assist to a point).
With these claims, the obvious way in which a lawyer may be instructed is for an opinion at the outset, perhaps help with drafting the claim or defence, and perhaps also with research of case law or technical legal points before the final hearing or to represent at the hearing. It is likely that fixed fee advice, proportionate to the amount in question, can be given, and this is something we always consider at Darlingtons.
So, if you are a claimant or defendant with a higher value small claims matter, get in touch with me to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.
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