Online process relaunched in effort to make small claims easier


With rising levels of small claims being made – ‘small claims’ meaning claims for less than £10,000 – a new online process has been introduced, in an attempt to make matters quicker and easier.

As part of a major £1 billion Government-led revamp of the courts system, a new online service, launched by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), allows individuals or businesses to submit their claim to Small Claims Track more easily, with the intention of allowing individuals and businesses an improved prospect of recovering money owing to them, as well as to improve the efficiency of the courts.

With latest statistics showing that in the first quarter of the year, 508,700 claims were filed at the County Court – the highest quarterly number since 2009 – there is certainly a need for some pressure to be alleviated on court resources, particularly with regard to lower value and straightforward claims.

With a simplification of the process, it is likely we will see even higher levels of claims, but before filing, it is essential that proper consideration is given to the strength of your claim, and legal advice should be sought if in doubt. Any individual or business should also consider whether the claim they face is genuine or unfounded.

To file a claim which lacks merit is very ill advised – while it is the usual rule with small claims that both parties pay their own costs, there is a risk of an adverse costs order if the claimant has acted unreasonably. Recently, I successfully acted on behalf of a business defending a claim for £60 which they believed to be wholly without merit and which, if successful, could have impacted significantly on their business, despite the modest amount.

Whilst claims allocated to the small claims track can be operated from start to finish by the claimant without the necessity for legal representation, if there are any doubts or any clarification is needed, then legal advice should be sought at any stage of the process.

The simplification of the claims procedure for amounts under £10,000 is a positive step, and will hopefully allow people to resolve their matters in a quicker and more straightforward way. However, as with any legal process, there are strict regulations that must be followed – if in any doubt, seek legal assistance.

Lewis Couth is an Associate in the specialist dispute resolution department at law firm Sintons, based in Newcastle.

To speak to Lewis about this or any other matter, contact him on 0191 226 3653 or lewis.couth@sintons.co.uk


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