When you are owed money by an individual or a business, you can look to claim it back in the small claims court. There is not actually a court dedicated to small claims; they are handled by the County Court. When you go down this route you will be engaging in a civil case as a private litigant. This means the final outcome will not involve any kind of criminal sanction. You are not guaranteed to be granted the money you are owed, but it does mean nobody is going to prison or being given any sort of criminal conviction.

There are specific rules around procedure for dealing with small claims. These are set out in the Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Directions on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols. Small claims are expected to take less than a day of court time to resolve. It is possible the Judge will declare your claim to be too complicated and send it off to the Fast Track or Multi Track (which is where they send higher value, more complex claims). You may also hear the phrase ‘small claims track’. ‘Track’ simply means ‘pool’ or ‘route’; it’s legal jargon.

When thinking about making a small claim you should ask yourself: have I been wronged? Is this the right way to go to retrieve money I am owed? Do I need a lawyer to help me through this process?

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