"I received the whole amount owed (before attending court) which is fantastic. If it wasn't for him, I would have been 'bullied' into dropping my case, and would have walked away empty handed. I cannot thank Dean enough". Miss R.W (Reigate, Surrey)
Things you didn't know about Small Claims.
....and why you need legal help:
- SOLICITORS ARE OFTEN UNAFFORDABLE - Solicitors normally charge by the hour, and even if you win you cannot recover your legal costs from your opponent.
- EVEN BIG CLAIMS CAN BE SMALL CLAIMS - The Government raised the Small Claims Limit on 1st April 2013 from £5,000 to £10,000. This means that people and small businesses with much larger and more complicated claims have to pursue them themselves.
- YOUR OPPONENT MAY STILL USE SOLICITORS - Even though under the Small Claims process the winner cannot recover their costs, your opponent may still use solicitors, especially if they are a large company or an insurer.
- THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS THE PREPARATION - Even good cases are lost because of inadequate preparation. If you go to trial, you will be facing an opponent who is trying as hard as you are to win. You can make sure that you are as prepared as possible by having assistance throughout the process.
- SMALL CLAIMS CAN BE AS COMPLICATED AS BIG CLAIMS - A claim doesn't have to be large to be complicated. Without legal assistance, it is very easy to make fundamental mistakes which could defeat your claim before it starts, such as suing the wrong legal entity or citing the wrong law, (or not citing the right law). I can provide you with expert legal advice and assistance at LOW FIXED FEES. Click below to contact me, or for more information.
- THE CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES STILL APPLY TO SMALL CLAIMS -One of the things I hear most often from clients, particularly those who are already involved in litigation and who come to me needing help, is that they "thought the Small Claims process was supposed to be easy". Except for some key rules (mainly those regarding legal costs) the Civil Procedure Rules (1998) which apply to litigation are the same whether the case is worth £1000 or £1,000,000. It's true that judges have discretion, and sometimes relax application of the rules on the Small Claims Track, but this cannot be expected. The rules still apply, and they are enforced.
- THE PERSON/BUSINESS YOU THINK IS RESPONSIBLE, IN LAW, MAY NOT BE SO - This speaks for itself. Examples*: a)You have sued a tradesman who carried out work at your home. The tradesman belongs to, and works for, a company. Your claim is not against the tradesman, it is against the company. b)Your vehicle is illegally parked, having been towed to that location, on your instructions, by a vehicle recovery agent; you were given permission to leave the vehicle there; the police instruct another vehicle recovery agency to tow the vehicle away; the vehicle is towed and is then impounded, at considerable cost to you; you had permission for the vehicle to be left there, and believe the police were wrong. Who is responsible for your loss? Liability for loss and damage is rarely straight forward. Sue the wrong entity, and you could easily be looking down the barrel of a large legal bill, even in a Small Claims case.
- IF YOU DO NOT ARGUE YOUR CASE PROPERLY, AND FULLY, YOU CANNOT EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO FILL IN THE GAPS LATER - From considerable experience of unpicking lawsuits which have gone wrong, it is almost never appropriate to restrict your comments in the Particulars of Claim section of the Money Claims Online Claim Form to the small box provided. Almost everyone I have come across who needed help after issuing has done this, and their abbreviated "pleading" has left them in difficulties, for three main reasons: a. Their claim form is answered by a defence which pleads in detail to their allegations, and raises issues they did not raise in their Claim Form. b. Law: They have not pleaded the relevant law which applies - you need to plead in your Claim Form why your opponent is liable, and that includes citing the relevant areas of law you believe they have breached.3. Facts: They have not pleaded a full factual case -If you exclude any arguments you should have included in your Claim Form because you did not have space, you cannot raise those arguments at trial. The best solution for this is to have your legal documents professionally drafted.
- THE LAW (AS OPPOSED TO PROCEDURAL RULES) APPLIES NO DIFFERENTLY TO SMALL CLAIMS THAN IT DOES TO LARGE CLAIMS - I repeatedly encounter cases where it is apparent that clients or their opponents exhibit an expectation that, because the value of a case is minimal, laws governing the area will not apply. This seems to be an extension of the "Small Claims process is supposed to be easy" belief, and to a certain extent is understandable, as enforcement of laws and regulations is less likely at lower value cases. However, just as is the case with the Civil Procedure Rules, legislation, statutory instruments, and the common law (ie: negligence, nuisance, trespass etc) apply regardless of value.
(*both real cases on which I was instructed)
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