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How to Defend a Small Claims in the County Court

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How to Defend a Small Claims in the County Court

In last week's blog we discussed how to bring a small claim under £10,000 at the county court, this week we will explain how to defend a small claim.

Types of claims in the small claims track

The most common sorts of small claims that are dealt with at the county court are:

  • Landlord and tenant disputes in respect of rent arrears and compensation for repairs;
  • Damages or compensation claims against suppliers of good and services for goods that were faulty or a service that was not satisfactory; and
  • Money claims involving debt recovery for services or goods provided where the recipient has defaulted on payment.

However, despite the relative success of this procedure:

''... the number of consumers going down this route has slumped by more than 50% in the past five years, with 29,577 hearings in 2013, compared to 53,248 in 2007.''
                                                                                                                           Harriet Myer, April 2015

How to respond to the claim form

If you are bringing a claim or civil dispute you will be referred to as a Claimant and if you are defending you will be referred to as a Defendant. Once the claim form from the Claimant setting out his claim is sent to you via the Court this is referred to as 'service of the papers.' If you wish to defend a small claim it will be allocated to the small claims track.

The claim form will give you an option to admit the claim, partially admit and defend the remainder, or fully defend the claim. You can also make a counterclaim. You can do all this via Money Claim Online.

You will have 14 days to respond or if you need more time then you can acknowledge the claim within this timeframe and file a defence within the next 14 days, which gives you a total of 28 days to file a defence. If you do nothing then a judgment will be entered against you.

Notice of Allocation

When your case is allocated or listed for a hearing, you will be notified by the court as to when the date of the final hearing is and how much time has been allowed for the hearing. The court will normally provide a set of standard directions with the allocation, to which you must adhere, such as when to file witness statements or supporting evidence like an experts that you rely on.

Final Hearing

The final hearing is a hearing where the Court finally determines a matter and gives judgment either for the Claimant or for the Defendant. It is informal and the normal rules of evidence do not apply. Parties will be permitted to ask witnesses questions about the evidence that they have given in support of a party and this is called 'cross examination.'

Once the Court has decided the matter the judge will give a 'county court judgment' (CCJ) and he will give reasons for his decision. It is advisable that you carefully note what he says if case you needed to appeal. You may appeal a judgment in the small claims track if the Judge makes an error in law or fact or there was some serious procedural irregularity. You will have 21 days to appeal and a fee is normally due.

Civil Dispute Solicitors, London

If you would like to know more about how to bring or defend a claim at the civil courts call Merchiston Solicitors on 0203 540 6340 to speak to one of our expert civil litigation solicitors. Alternatively, email us on or complete our online enquiry form.

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