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Defending Yourself in the Small Claims Court

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 13 Sep 2019 | comments*Discuss
Court Law Legal Small Claims Dispute

As a defendant in a small claims case it is important that you act quickly and do not ignore the claim form when it arrives. Remember, the claim will proceed anyway even if you don’t respond. If the claim goes against you, it will be very difficult to make a counter claim as you didn’t respond to the initial small claim.

You may be unaware that you are the defendant in a small claims case that an alleged victim has bought against you. When the small claims form arrives follow these initial steps:

1: Read the Form Carefully

The detail about the claim that is being bought against you will be in the ‘particulars of claim’ section. If this section isn’t completed, or has the words ‘particulars of claim to follow’ take no action now and wait until you are sent details of the claim against you. You may want to consult a lawyer at this stage.

2: Respond in Time

It’s vitally important that you respond to the claim for you have been sent. Remember that there is a 14 day time limit on this. You must have your form back in the hands of the issuing court before the 14 days are up, so post your response with plenty of time.

3: Talk to the Claimant

Just because a small claim has been bought against you and a claim form issued, this doesn’t mean you are not allowed to contact the claimant directly. In fact the court encourages you to try and settle the claim without the need for a court appearance. So, try and resolve your dispute directly with the claimant if you can.

Not Responding to a Small Claim

If you ignore the small claims form when it arrives this can have an adverse impact on your financial status. The court will continue with the small claims lawsuit that is being bought against you even in your absence as this is a legal requirement. When the small claim is processed you will be sent a bill showing the amount you owe and any additional costs.

The small claims against you is a legal process that will be recorded on the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines. This information is used to check your credit, so could have a negative impact when you next apply for any credit. To avoid damaging your credit rating reply to your small claims docket as soon as you can.

How to Respond to Your Small Claims Form

When you received your form from the court you will also have been sent a response pack. In this pack you will see the option that are open to you. These include:
  • A dispute claim form. You can use this form if you do not agree that you are liable for the small claim being bought against you.
  • Details about how to pay the amount being claimed from you.
  • Details about how to admit to part of the small claim against you, and how you can ask the claimant for more time to pay.

There are Two Types of Small Claims:

Fixed Amounts:
If the claim against you is for a fixed amount of money your response pack will contain three forms. Form N9 (acknowledgement of Service), form N9A (admission form) and N9B (defence and counterclaim form).

Unspecified Amounts:
If the amount being claimed is unspecified you will be sent forms N9 and N9C (admission form) and N9D (defence and counterclaim form). It is vital that you read the accompanying explanatory notes before choosing which form to send back.

Paying the Small Claim

If you want to make full payment of the amount being claimed against you this amount will be shown on the claim for you have been sent, and will also have details about where to send the money. Don’t forget, this must be done within the 14 day time limit or your case will proceed to the next stage.

In some instances you would like to pay, but need more time, you can give details about the delay you would like on form N9A, which should be in your response pack. It’s also a good idea to read leaflet EX309: The Defendant Admits by claim as this gives more details on this aspect of your case when fixed amounts of money are involved. Leaflet EX308 gives details of cases when unspecified amounts are being claimed against you.

How to Defend a Claim Against You

Disputed claims are handled by filling in the appropriate form from your response pack. You have three choices: Form N9, N9B or N9D. Read the note accompanying each form carefully to ensure you completely correctly. Pay special attention to the allegations raised on the form. If you don’t respond to each the court will assume you are admitting guilt.

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My son has been threatened with small claims court, but we dont actually know why. He did a decorating job for a client who wanted it done in a week, a price was agreed and the client said they only wanted 1 coat of paint, knowing that painting a pink wall with just 1 coat of paint was not going to do the job, he had to paint it with 3 coats as he did not want to do a poor job. He and a colleague spent 6 days decorating the inside of the house (which was a mess with phots to prove it before work started). The job was completed and the bill was paid. The client has now quibbled about the price, accused my son of doing a shoddy job, threatened him by leaving a bad review on his website, and been very rude. My son has on 3 occasions offered to go and look to see what she is complaining about and each time she has been too busy! The woman has demanded that he sends her receipts for the materials but has not once said she wants any monies returned! We are at a loss as to what she wants, we have text messages from her which are not very nice saying "He needs to grow a pair" as well as other things. My son has conducted himself politely and not been rude and only stated facts. If she does go to the small claims court is she likely to bring forward a claim?
Dave - 13-Sep-19 @ 5:31 PM
Hi could someone advise me on a ccthat has been filed against me? well my mom as I sold a battery and charger via a buying and sellingapp on the Internet, the item was working and fully charged when I sent the item threw parcel force delivery. The buyer wanted to pay me via direct bank transfer but I don't have a bank account so I told him I would give him my mom's bank details and he could pay into that, he was more than happy to do so. One week later I received a text message saying the charger didn't work and wanted my address to send it back to me, I explained that it was fully working when I posted it and I gave him my address, I also said I wasn't willing to pay the money back as it was not faulty before I sent it and I said I would contact parcel force to see if it insured while in transit, due to unforeseen circumstances I totally forgot about it. Now 90 days later I've received a email saying he's applying for a ccj against my mom as the payment was to her account, can he do this?
nickyf - 17-Aug-19 @ 2:57 AM
Sister taking me to small claims court over 1000 pounds which was gift now says was loan wants it back again. Nothing wrote down no payment or interest plan in place. Gave money in cash just her and I present . How do I stand defending this claim?
Bunny - 12-Jun-19 @ 9:12 AM
My business is defending a claim in the small claims court which is proceeding to a hearing.Our choice of court is the Central London County Court, local to us, but the claimant's is their local court outside London, which is where the hearing has been transferred to.I'm told that the defendant's choice only takes preference if they are a private individual, and as we are a limited company this doesn't apply.But surely the principle is the same, which is that the claimant is the one who has brought the case, and shouldn't be able to "drag" the defendant to a court of their choosing against the defendat's will.In any case, why is the claimant's choice always the one that's decided on?Please advise.
Tarquin - 10-Jun-19 @ 4:08 PM
we are about to have a trial soon, however after a surveyor was appointed/approved via the courts it has turned out that the defendant has caused damage to our roof/back bedroomand the party wall act in the roof space due to poor workmanship,which the surveyor who is a court witness experthas said the damage is coming to £50000.00 plus to add al my expenses of the court case and postage and the payment for the surveyor,ut still the defendant who lives next door refuses to talk to us I cannot say why as it will be classed a racisim,he did not even reply to my 14 day notice letter in 2017 because it was worthless, it has now not turned outnot to be worthless and still refuses to talk and looks like they are not bothered if this goes to trial at all, the judge at court case back in February said this is the next step, Can you tell me , am I right that I do not have to do anything,
kaz - 9-Jun-19 @ 9:30 AM
Hello, I need some help. I stayed in a caravan and had to pay a deposit of £75 and if things weren’t left the way they were found and so on I wouldn’t get the money back. Now the owner has contacted me saying I’m not having the deposit back and if I don’t pay for the caravan to be cleaned he’s taking me to court. Can anyone help?
Jade - 1-Jun-19 @ 12:08 AM
Hi, I am defending a case from a company who sold me a wing mirror, they promised delivery within 3 working days, it arrived after 7, and once opened the part was wrong, after poor customer service a manager finally agreed to send me the correct part id paid for with the agreement I would send the wrong part back the next day. Because of work commitments I couldn't send it back to them until a couple of weeks later, despite them emailing me saying I had 48 hours to send it them or they would take legal action. Because of their poor customer service and original errors I felt they had no right to set strict deadlines and take legal action, they received their part back within 3 weeks. Now they are asking for £165 for the cost of retrieving the item, I have no idea how they are justifying this amount and I don't believe I owe them a penny. Please could I get your view on this as I have refused mediation as I don't feel I should compromise and pay them anything.
Luke - 31-May-19 @ 11:35 AM
I've excepted a small claim again me for a car with mechanical issue and offered to refund the cost of the vehicle from two years ago, however I've arrived with a tow truck to collect the vehicle and there is a huge amount of body damage to the vehicle that wasn't on the vehicle when sold or mentioned in the small claims hearing by the claimant. Have I a course of action to take Matthew Houston Whitstable motor company
Max - 10-May-19 @ 3:04 PM
I have a disgruntled customer whom wants to take me to court for some flooring she deemed not fit for purpose and was seeking a full refund after saying she was happy with the install I offered a partial refund which she refused I went and rectified the said mistakes once again she said she was happy and the job was completed now two weeks after final visit she is threatening legal action after over a month after job was complete. Also I paid for a plumber to move a sink as the pedestal didn’t not fit back under the sink after the flooring was installed as it was an unforeseen problem. And still getting threatened with small claims court.
J - 1-May-19 @ 10:59 PM
Hi, I'm wondering if you can help. I took on a large building job for a customer and then the job went wrong and now the customer is taking me to small claims court to claim back approximately £7000. I am planning on disputing the case and it's variables but what I'm interested to know is... When I initially took on the job I hadn't registered my company with companies house, however on all my correspondence, invoicing, quoting etc I used my company name. Once the job had started I then registered my company with companies house. Would that mean the customer is suing me directly or suing my company? Where do I stand? She has mentioned she wants to sue myself and my company, is that possible? As a limited company I'd rather she sued my company but is that how it works? Can someone help me please?
Bill - 20-Mar-19 @ 11:29 PM
Some advice please - my son was taken to court over some parking charge notices. The case was struck out. Will this affect my son's credit rating? Thank you.
BridgeBabe - 10-Mar-19 @ 10:32 AM
Hi, I am being chased by a debt recovery company for a payday loan from 2011 that I couldn't (and still can't) repay. The company tried to get a CCJ which I defended by claiming the debt was statute-barred by being over 6 years old and I had receive no communications from the loan company from 2011 to 2017. The court application was stayed, but now the stay has been lifted and the debt company has now requested it be allocated to the Small Claims Track, and I have been sent a Small Claims Directions Questionnaire to complete, offering the option of Small Claims Mediation Service. What action would you recommend I take? Should I agree to mediation but stick to my guns re the statute bar status?
Barders - 8-Jan-19 @ 8:46 PM
Hi .. complicated situation.. my name was on the rent . My wife had me removed from the property whilst having a mental breakdown . We split up and in that time I was living elsewhere, I gave notice on the house but my wife and children where still living there . My wife could not leave there at the time but offerd the company social welfare money to pay the rent , they refused . So that became one months rent they say I owed but wasn’t living there . She finally left 2 days into the next month and now they are wanting two months rent .. they’ve put a claim in to the small courts . Where do I stand ? Also at the time I wasn’t allowed back at the property..the company totally were out of order with the way they spoke to me and my wife st the time I’ve got emails to prove it too
Markyboy - 18-Sep-18 @ 2:38 PM
Sam - Your Question:
Hello, my husband who is a builder has been taken to the small claims court by a disgruntled customer who is seeking £1000.We filled the forms in and agreed to immediation. We were told to expect a phone call if the defendant agreed.We received no call but was given a court date by post. My husband cannot make the date and I’m worried that a not showing up would look like we don’t take the situation seriously , which we do.It doesn’t help that she has legal support from her te friends who are top solicitors and they have given her a witness statement. My husband did work for these witnesses who were more than happy with their finished work.

Our Response:
The earlier your husband informs the court he cannot attend the better. He can either agree with the claimant to move the date (the court is more likely to move the date if both sides agree), or he can contact the court directly and he will be asked to fill in a form. If he doesn't turn up, the court will go ahead with the hearing in his absence. But that's never a good idea.
CourtroomAdvice - 6-Jul-18 @ 9:23 AM
Hello, my husband who is a builder has been taken to the small claims courtby a disgruntled customer who is seeking £1000. We filled the forms in and agreed to immediation. We were told to expect a phone call if the defendant agreed. We received no call but was given a court date by post . My husband cannot make the date and I’m worried that a not showing up would look like we don’t take the situation seriously , which we do. It doesn’t help that she has legal support from her te friends who are top solicitors and they have given her a witness statement . My husband did work for these witnesses who were more than happy with their finished work .
Sam - 5-Jul-18 @ 6:19 AM
My mum is taking me to small claims court for money she paid me in an ISA account if I loose this case will this go down on police record I work in care and on sssc registration worried I’m going loose my job which would also mean my home etc im really worried here not been sleeping well what will happen here
Shaza 72 - 13-Mar-18 @ 3:16 PM
I filed a SCC claim for unpaid fees for work provided and defendant entered defence saying they had already paid me. This is not true, I have not received any payments. Just checked bank account details given and they are correct so what can I do now?
Sam4715 - 15-Feb-18 @ 11:43 PM
A friend has just received a bill from the court as she did not dispute the claim form, however she did not receive the form. She has been waiting for this as was expecting her ex to contact the court but has already had a solicitor gobtact him telling him she would countersue. She has now been told to pay- is the anything she do as she was planning to take him to court and countersue. How are the claims forms sent out as she has not signed for any or received any. Surely she should have these firms sent to her recorded?
Angry friend - 9-Jan-18 @ 9:57 PM
Hi there, Any advice on this would be much appreciated! Over the past few years my father (who I neither get on with or see a lot of) took several fraudulent accounts out in my name. I was away at university in the UK and overseas at the time and only found out once he did a runner and he was evicted, leading my Mum (separated from him) to go and empty the house. It was reported to the police and he was eventually caught and arrested, he subsequently admitted the fraud and was cautioned. Most of the creditors took the crime number and their evidence (letters, rent receipts showing I was away) and left me alone quickly. However one company proceeded to conduct a fraud investigation without asking for more evidence and are now taking me to County Court. I have since supplied them with a tenancy agreement, the crime reference number, arresting officer and other evidence and the claim is going to mediation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. It’s stressing me out big time.
CDell94 - 27-Dec-17 @ 9:07 PM
@Roadrunner - I would get in touch with the court where it was heard and ask for advice.
DavidH - 7-Dec-17 @ 10:42 AM
Hi, I sent payment for a small claim (by cheque) to the claimant's stated address, by special delivery, and delivery was rejected by resident of that address (address was of a relative of claimant). Therefore the letter was returned to me, and claimant has not received my payment. Either claimant has moved, or is away. What should I do, now that it's now approaching month since claim was started?
Roadrunner - 6-Dec-17 @ 1:58 PM
I am working in a hospital and someone mislead me asking me to direct her on where to get some items and I lead her through d gate and showed her the way whereas I didn't know she is still owing and she flee... am now asked to defend my self or I pay her bills please help
konga - 6-Nov-17 @ 9:42 AM
I have defend myself in a small claims court and have to write it within days and post to all parties i dont know where to start, it is against a parking company plz help
Hillo - 4-Oct-17 @ 1:33 PM
hi my daughter recently booked a holiday with her friend my daughter is lead passenger. a few weeks later another girl was booked on. these two other girls have now turned nasty and made the situation impossible for my daughter to go so she is going to cancel and lose out but now a lot of abuse has started and as lead passenger she has the option of cancelling the whole holiday unless they compensate her(if I'm losing out so are you!) the travel agent has offered a solution if they either pay my daughter she will release the tickets to them or get someone to take her place and give her the money. they have refused and told her if she cancels and they lose there money as well they will take her to the small claims court to compensate them. would she lose if this was the case? also one of the girls went into the travel agents pretending to be my daughter and was given the tickets she is only 17!
andy - 17-Aug-17 @ 5:20 PM
I have ceased trading and have closed my Limited company, I am in the process of emptying the leased building. All of the assets have been sold off and put the money has been put into the bank account (which is in a minus). All of the creditors have been paid as have all the bills. A customer has issued a Small Claims Track for £10,400 I am disputing that I am liable. My question is: Can I still be liable even though my Limited company has closed, I am 75 years old and retiring
KennyB - 24-May-17 @ 2:34 PM
Hi. I moved out of my old property due to repairs etc not being done. My landlord decided to start them when I handed my notice in to try and stop me from moving out but I wanted to go. The repairs that happened to the living room window created alot of dirt on the carpet I tried numerous of times to clean it, there was also damp all over the walls causing the walls to smell and fall apart which made the room smell. Well since moving out he's claiming the carpet was drenched it cat urine bearing in mind I do not have a cat but I told the letting agents about all the damp it was on the carpet etc and I had tried to clean it but on the day I moved I washed it too so I'm not sure if damp will of grown etc. So he's claiming I owe him over £700 and threatening with a small claims I have proof repairs never got done and when they did get done but how can I prove the stains and the smell was not my problem?
Jo90 - 24-May-17 @ 12:41 PM
I sold a refurbished washing machine to a customer with a 1 year warranty, 7 months ago. About a month ago she said it was marking her clothes, so I replaced the machine, ( but found no fault with the original. She then said the new machine was even worse, so I apologised and refunded her money in full. I have since found no fault with the second machine. She now says she is taking me to court for the value of the marked clothes. Both the original manufacturers and my warranty specifically exclude consequential damage to clothes. Am I liable if there is no fault with the machines? Thanks
Tom - 24-Mar-17 @ 2:23 PM
how long in scotland case a case be sisted for it a civil ordinary cause and the pursures have asked the sheriff to sist the case which it was done on the 17th February 2017
KAMAL - 15-Mar-17 @ 1:38 PM
Hi I had a small claim of £4500 made against me in the small claims court.I defended the claim and produced a defense.During the process the courts asked me to try and enter into mediation with the claimant. I did this but the claimant refused the mediation.Later a district judge sent me a letter stating that this claim was worth entering into mediation to try and resolve and save costs. I filled in the necessary info and sent a return letter stating that I was happy to enter into mediation. The claimant once again refused mediation and the claim went to court in January.I waited in court and was called in before the judge only to find that the claimant had not turned up or presented any evidence.The judge struck off the claim. Two months down the road the claimant has issued a new claim with a new claim number for the exact same thing. Can they do this legally and what should i do.
Pephilmor - 13-Mar-17 @ 1:54 PM
A claim has been made against me by an ex-landlord. They claim I owe rent for the months notice I did not provide when moving out. I have defended the claim as I had the permission of the landlord at the time via text. I asked if he would let me move out earlier than the months notice period. He text that if I moved by end of month (5days time)he would accept it as notice served. I moved all my possessions out in the 5 days returned the keys, attended an end of tenancy walk around the flat and thought that was it. He is now saying I didn't provide the written notice so still owe him rent. Do you think he can win this claim?
Kaapie - 3-Jan-17 @ 10:15 PM
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