How To React To A Defence
Defences should be carefully read and considered. Whilst the defendant must prove its defence you must have documentary evidence, or a credible witness who will attend court, to prove yours.
Time To Respond To Court
The court allows a short time to respond to notices informing us of defences and part admissions. If we do not reply to the court by that date, the claim will be stayed. If the case is stayed, no further steps can be taken without the court's permission - which will not necessarily be given. If the court's permission is required an application will have to be made and a court fee paid.
Limited Costs in Small Claims Cases
When a claim is for less than £10,000, the case will be allocated to the Small Claims Track and be dealt with at a Small Claims hearing. No legal costs are normally awarded to either side in Small Claims cases (apart from the fixed costs on the Claim Form, and any other court fees incurred, such as the fee payable with the Direction Questionnaire - formerly the Allocation Questionnaire, and the Hearing fee).
For very small cases it may be economic not to attend the hearing but to ask the court to consider papers filed at court and make a decision based on these. This is only recommended for extremely small debts where there is a full paper trail and your case can easily be proven by the witness statement and supporting documents filed. The court requires 7 days notice of non-attendance.
There is a risk the defendant will raise points not previously mentioned and if you are not at the hearing, or represented, then the court may find in the defendant’s favour and strike out your claim.
If the defence is weak, or your evidence in support of your claim compelling, we may recommend an application for summary judgment. Costs can be claimed, even for a Small Claim.
Claims for between £10,000 and £25000 are allocated to this track. We suggest these are handled by our Commercial Department, although some may be suitable to remain in the Legal Department on a fixed fee. This can be determined by using our "Initial Assessment of Defence" service shown below.
Claims for over £25,000.00 are allocated to this track. We recommend you instruct our Commercial Department to handle these on your behalf.
What If There Is A Counterclaim?
If a defence includes a counterclaim it must be dealt with as a matter of priority and a defence to the counterclaim filed at court, usually within 14 days or with the Direction Questionnaire (formerly the Allocation Questionnaire). If this is not filed, the defendant will be able to enter judgment against you. A defence which includes a counterclaim need your urgent attention.
INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF DEFENCE (claims under £5,000) - £250
We offer a special service whereby you can get an initial assessment of the case from one of our solicitors for a fixed Assessment Fee of £200 (ex VAT).
As far as is possible at this stage, the assessment will give you advice on:-
your prospects of success
further evidence required
any further advice that may be required and an estimate for providing this
likely costs and complexity
what we would do and what you would do to prepare for a hearing
when you could withdraw from the proceedings, and at what cost, if you wanted to continue the case but not go the full way
if a summary judgment application is suitable
Once the case has been assessed, you can decide if you want us to continue conducting the case for you. If suitable this can be for a fixed price of £450.00 plus VAT.
Our assessment will be based on the information you supply and can only be as accurate as that information provided. Please provide a brief outline of the history of the debt and the dispute together with copies of the contract and any correspondence setting out the dispute.
INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF DEFENCE (claim over £5,000) - £500
This service will give advice as outlined for Small Claims Track cases, but it will also provide further information required for claims allocated to the Fast and Multi Track. As costs are recoverable if you win, or payable if you lose, it is vital to get the initial strategy right.