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Defending Yourself in the Small Claims Court

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 2 Nov 2018 | 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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While buying house, I had requested the seller to vacate by a certain date and he finally agreed if I paid him £200. But he had a different date in mind which was initially not clear. He left on 3 days after the date I requested him to leave. On the day of completion, when I spoke to the agents or his partner, there was no mention of money and I assumed he had a change of heart and finally decided not to take advantage of my situation or that he had managed the funds to move which he said he was short of. 2 weeks later, he came knocking on my house and started shouting at me for the money. I explained to him that I had to spend money ( half a day’s labour and a 3rd of a skip) because of all the rubbish he had kept in the attic which he should have cleared and because he hadn’t moved out on the date I had requested him. Finally we agreed, I would pay him £100. During our conversation, he said that he was willing to understand if I could not pay all the money upfront. He sent an email asking asking for £100 and I replied to his email stating that I would pay some of the money towards the end of the month. I paid him £40 by bank transfer with the understanding that he would be happy to receive part of the payment and then the remaining next month. He sent me an email stating I should pay the remaining to which I did not reply. After 10 days, he sent a letter stating he was taking action and returned the money with a cheque of £40. Instead of trying to clarify when I was going to pay or giving me a deadline to pay the remaining £60, raised a money claim in SCC for £228 (£200 original amount + £25 claim fee + £3 interest). I have since then paid him £60 (remainder) + £25 (claim fee) and sent him 2 emails explaining that this was a misunderstanding and apologised for my delay. But he returned the remaining asking for the full claim amount. To respond, should I say that I reject the claim as I have paid him what I believe I owe? Or since he has sent me cheques of the amount that I had paid him, should I say I accept part of the claim and repay the amount again?
John - 2-Nov-18 @ 3:31 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
Hillo - Your Question:
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

Our Response:
Please see part five of the Civil Justice Council guide to; bringing and defending a small claim here which should help answer your question.
CourtroomAdvice - 5-Oct-17 @ 9:43 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 am involved in a small claims case so looked to this site for info etc. What strikes me more than anything is the lack of commitment from posters! You describe in detail your situation but without any thought for the reader! No punctuation, bizzare spellings, rambling accounts. If we are going to be of ANY (sorry no italics!) use to each other, we need to CONSIDER each other! READ what you've written, BEFORE you post! It only takes a minute and means this resource can be truly useful, rather than an incoherent,frustrating, repetitive (see what I did there?) HUMORLESS series of er......stuff. If you've read this far, thank you and apologies......rant over.
Nige - 10-Jul-17 @ 11:47 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
My husband was dismissed on gross misconduct on 17th June this year verbally after a 2 day suspension.On the 24th June he rang said company about non payment of outstanding salary, holiday pay and expenses and was told it was used towards a penalty in connection with company car and that he still owed them money.At no time has he had any formal notification in writing about dismissal or non payment of salary.No official wage slip or P45 was received.The Company are saying it's a 6 month penalty as the car was taken back on his dismissal and it was within a two year period.We are now being threatened with small claims court for apparent outstanding penalty of £234.We have emailed to ask questions, about official payslip and P45.What the actual penalty is for, especially as although the company leased the car, and in the company name, did they have to return the car to said company and pay these costs or was the car given to another employee, thereby they have lost nothing (we suspect this to be the case).Also, we are led to believe that in fact it was illegal to withhold salary and not tell the employee, nor send official payslip and P45.They should have paid him and then invoiced the amount.Every time we ask questions they are ignored.We ourselves just want answers to our questions and a swift resolution to this.We have never refused to pay, just want official documentation proving tax and NI was paid on the salary they withheld and proof of the costs incurred by them in connection with car.Any advice would be greatly received.
Liz59 - 28-Dec-16 @ 11:19 AM
Hi, I had a friend who had asked if as a favor I could accommodate an ex-colleague who was moving cities for a new job, this individual had not arranged anywhere to stay and was desperate. I allowed him to see a the spare room I had, bear in mind I am not a landlord but have good relations with my own. There was some work that needed to be done, but he was quite happy to move in and agreed to pay me a sum of money, he didn't wish to flat share in London which was his only option due to budget etc. He has since caused various issues, albeit the room wasn't perfect he was aware from the outset and was aware a lot of work was being done to the property at the time, most of which I was overlooking. The relationship became turmoil as I had no time to be social with him, which is what he wanted and would moan about things and say it was a joke after. Eventually I realized this was too much hassle than it was worth and asked him to find alternative accommodation which he refused to acknowledge, he then attempted to claim squatters rights and posed to withhold the monthly payment, eventually he found somewhere else and left a month later. I have held back some of the deposit money as a number of white goods were thrown out by himself and his brother who helped him move in, these were in working order. I have since paid him part of the deposit, retaining £400. He has put a small claim in since for the full deposit. This was tracked for mediation which he on the day of mediation has responded by e-mail to say he is abroad. This is time-consuming and I have attempted to negotiate to end this saga, what are my quickest options to end this?
d - 22-Dec-16 @ 11:42 AM
For the last six years i have had a tradesman keep badgering me for payment of a bill. He was a sub-contractor to the main contractor (who i paid for the work done). He has put me through hell defending this claim (over £6,000) didnt send me any papers and today didnt turn up in court. His case was dismissed and i was awarded costs. But so minimal hardly worth counting. Can i do anything about this. I get the feeling he's done this to others and rather than risk a CCJ they just pay him something so that he will go away. Can I do anything to get proper recompence?
Miffed of Somerset - 5-Dec-16 @ 1:40 PM
I was issued a Money claim from the county court for a fee from a client which I dispute, we moved offices and have just found out that we missed the hearing at the county court and an order has been made to which I am still waiting. Is there still a chance to appeal or fight the ccj
Sif - 10-Nov-16 @ 10:19 AM
We' defended a claim oon time but the courts lost our paperwork & automatically judged against us for non response. We have proof , which has been accepted, that we sent the required defence on time but the courts are saying the ruling stands & we have to submit again, is this correct?
H - 25-Oct-16 @ 2:05 PM
we took our previous landlord to small claim court due to none repair issue for 6 months and it was 3 months ago and he did not respond first then he respond now he is seeking a money from us as we stressed him , Its says on the his respond but we do have a all the evidences etc. How come he can ask to us to pay money him if we took him to court ?court said now they are waiting to him if he pays to court its looks like our claim is dissappered
bu - 24-Oct-16 @ 11:23 AM
Hi I am defending a claim but have a question. Can anyone help. 1. If I don't win do I automatically get a ccj on my credit file or if I don't win and pay within a time limit will it this stop a ccj? There is so much conflicting info on this online. Thanak
Pinkanne - 21-Oct-16 @ 8:36 PM
I was taken to a small claims court and it was awarded against me to pay my ex client £800 to which I have never diagreed with and she also has said in a letter that I have never not refused to pay her the £800.At the time in court I informed the judge that I cannot pay the full amount in one payment and that I can only pay in installments of £80.00 per month. The judge said that I would need to inform the county court and write in completing an N245 which was completed and sent into the county court. i was informed that I would hear within 28 days. The day in the small claims court was in July 2016, I have just been informed now being 20th October 2016 4 months later that I need to attend court for a 10 minute hearing in December 20166 months later.My question is why has it taken this long (more than 28 days) can I do anything about this.If my ex client accepted the fixed monthly ammount £80.00 in July 2016 she would have been paid by December £480.00. Please can you advise me if there is anything I can do.
GDL - 20-Oct-16 @ 7:40 PM
I was taken to a small claims court and it was awarded against me to pay my ex client £800 to which I have never diagreed with and she also has said in a letter that I have never not refused to pay her the £800.At the time in court I informed the judge that I cannot pay the full amount in one payment and that I can only pay in installments of £80.00 per month. The judge said that I would need to inform the county court and write in completing an N245 which was completed and sent into the county court. i was informed that I would hear within 28 days. The day in the small claims court was in July 2016, I have just been informed now being 20th October 2016 4 months later that I need to attend court for a 10 minute hearing in December 20166 months later.My question is why has it taken this long (more than 28 days) can I do anything about this.If my ex client accepted the fixed monthly ammount £80.00 in July 2016 she would have been paid by December £480.00. Please can you advise me if there is anything I can do.
GDL - 20-Oct-16 @ 6:00 PM
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