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Use the Small Claims Court for Debt Recovery

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 30 Oct 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Small Claims Court Small Claims Claimant

If you are owed a sum of money that the person refuses to pay, you can take your claim to the small claims court. The County Court usually deals with this type of financial claim. The small claims court isn't a special court, but just one of the functions of the County Court and is often referred to as the Small Claims Track as this is the most common form of small claims that are bought against defendants.

In most cases you can use the online system to make and track your claim as it progresses through the court system. Note that you will be expected to show that you have attempted to settle your claim in other ways before coming to the courts for help.

One of the best ways of trying to settle your dispute is via the National Mediation Helpline. You can call them on: 0845 603 0809. They also have a website. It's also a good idea to read leaflet EX301: Making a claim? Some questions to ask yourself before you begin a formal small claims proceeding.

The type of small claims court you use will depend on the amount of money you are claiming. Your options are:

  • Small Claims Track for claims under £5,000
  • Fast Track for claims between £5,000 and £15,000
  • Multi Track for claims over £15,000

For general claims the Small Claims Track is used. Note that the amount of your claim should be no more than £2,000 in Northern Ireland and under £3,000 in Scotland.

How to Make a Claim

If after all your attempts to recover the money you are owed you still cannot get a satisfactory conclusion to your claim, you can start a small claims court proceeding.

You can obtain a claim form from most County Courts, or you can download the form from the HMRC website: www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk. Once you have completed the form take two copies (three in Northern Ireland) it to your nearest County Court. They will assess the claim and serve the defendant with the claim via post.

The defendant will be sent a response pack that contains information and the forms the defendant will need to respond to your claim. If the pack is returned, the court will issue form N216 (notice of returned document). You can then decide whether to continue your claim.

When the defendant receives your claim form they have a number of options:

  • They can ignore your claim. If this happens, leaflet EX304 will give you advice on what to do next.
  • They can admit to your claim. If this happens, leaflet EX309 will tell you how you can proceed to recover the money you are owed.
  • They can dispute or defend all or a part of your claim. If this happens, leaflet EX306 will tell you what can happen next with your claim.

Money Claim Online

If you are claiming a fixed amount of money instead of using the small claims court, you can usually get a faster result with Money Claim Online. The service is completely Internet based and involves you completing a claim form that is then processed and served to the defendant. You can read more on the government money claim website

Generally, you can use this service if:

  • You are making a claim against no more than two people.
  • The amount you are claiming is fixed, but less than £100,000.
  • You live within England and Wales.
  • The person you are suing lives within England and Wales.
  • You have a valid credit or debit card.
  • You are over 18 years of age.
  • You are not defined as a patient under the 1983 Mental Health Act.
  • You are a legally assisted person as defined within the 1988 Legal Aid Act.

If want to begin your claim you can choose whether to begin your claim as a claimant or defendant by visiting the HMCS website.

Fees and Costs

The fee that you will have to pay for your small claim to be processed by the courts (or the Money Claim Online service) will depend on how much the claim is for and if you are claiming any benefits. You will generally have to pay court fees unless you are claiming:

  • Income Support
  • State Pension Guaranteed Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit with no Child Tax Credit

Your gross annual income will also be taken into consideration. You can read more detailed information about small claims court fees in leaflet EX160A that you can download from the HMRC website.

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My ex had a credit card while we were together, my name is not on this and I have no idea on the outstanding debt on this credit card but she is now taking me to court for £1500, when she left the family home I said to her as a good will gesture I will help you pay some of your debt as I knew she was in financial difficulty but I did not give an end date.. she is saying I owe her £100 per month until 2021, she say this was a verbal agreement!! I am still myself paying a loan that we took out together which is in both our names that she has not contributed to however I did also say that as a good will gesture I would take this loan on solely also because I knew she was struggling..help, where do I stand?
Sammy - 30-Oct-20 @ 6:06 PM
Hi, my current partner has been threatened by his ex with a small claims in regards to a loan she had taken out in her name. This was used to consolidated 1 of her credit cards and 2 of my partners. They split and she took on all responsibility of the house the shared and bills. Where would my partner stand in this instance as she is claiming for full payment back.
Fozz - 30-Oct-20 @ 9:43 AM
Can I take my ex partner to court if he is refusing to pay his half of the mortgage in full which is leaving the mortgage in arrears? He pays just over 100 pounds a month but should be lying around 500. He refuses to pay because he does not live in the house, however the house is up for sale.
Ro - 14-Aug-20 @ 2:06 PM
Hi, Can I take my ex husband to small claims court over unpaid child support agency arrears and ongoing unpaid CMS payments? He owes over £4000 CSA and it's up to £6000 CMS payments now. He lies about his income as he is self employed and lies about where he is living by sending letters back when in fact he is due to marry in 3 months time and has lived with his partner for 8 years. Could I please have some advice on how to claim the money owed please
V - 11-May-20 @ 4:55 PM
I’m the claimant and the defendant offered to pay me £5 a month to pay off £1000 owed that I won in court Today I’ve been sent a letter “General form of Judgment or Order Saying it will go back to court and the both defendantS must bring proof full income and expenditure When I saw proof of outgoings when I was offered £5 a month his outgoings just didn’t seem right. Also her outgoings and income weren’t included even though she is on of the defendants So what now? Do I attend court that day and what will be the outcome? What should I expect
Adele Hedley - 28-Nov-19 @ 2:22 PM
Hi, Please could you advise me. my company have been issued with a Particulars of Claim by my former employee! the employee in question was really bad at her work, she was on her probation when i had to let her go - agreeing to pay full months salary etc. I have tried my best to get her settled in and at her interview and on her application she stated she was familiar with nature the work - but in reality, she either was lying about her experience or showed no interest in doing the work! I had several appraisal meetings to help her along the way and to help her further no records were kept so that it does not affect her bonuses etc. Because of some financial problems i could not pay her to when promised too. I have since responded to all ACAS enquiries and have proposed to spread the pay over 8 Months, she immediately refused to accept and filed a claim with interests. What and how should I respond to this claim as a defendant.
Help - 5-Nov-19 @ 5:44 PM
Hi, Please could you advise me. my company have been issued with a Particulars of Claim by my former employee! the employee in question was really bad at her work, she was on her probation when i had to let her go - agreeing to pay full months salary etc. I have tried my best to get her settled in and at her interview and on her application she stated she was familiar with nature the work - but in reality, she either was lying about her experience or showed no interest in doing the work! I had several appraisal meetings to help her along the way and to help her further no records were kept so that it does not affect her bonuses etc. Because of some financial problems i could not pay her to when promised too. I have since responded to all ACAS enquiries and have proposed to spread the pay over 8 Months, she immediately refused to accept and filed a claim with interests. What and how should I respond to this claim as a defendant.
Help - 5-Nov-19 @ 5:43 PM
I am in the final stages of my small claim, I am the claimant.I have sent the final copies of the documents I intend to use in court to the Defendant and the Court but the Defendant has not sent his document copies to me and it is past the 14 days deadline.My question is will the case still go ahead at the court if the Defendant has not supplied his paperwork for the case. Thank you.
Lin - 30-Jul-19 @ 12:25 PM
Can I take my ex the father of my 2 childrento court for unpaid maintenance. The agreement was between us but he has now stopped paying a couple of months ago claiming he is out of work. I've tried to sort it with him but he completely ignores me. Can I claim it back through Small Claims Court ?
Booboo - 1-Jul-19 @ 11:16 AM
Hi Can I take my ex the father of my 2 childrento court for unpaid maintenance. The agreement was between us but he has now stopped paying a couple of months ago claiming he is out of work. I've tried to sort it with him but he completely ignores me. Can I claim it back through Small Claims Court ?
Booboo - 1-Jul-19 @ 11:13 AM
My ex is harassing me. When we were together I was wrongly accused of stealing a ring my partner had lost and I was pestered into paying for a replacement. I got charged for brand new hinges for the car door which I slammed once in an argument. Had to send money for my ex floodinghotel bathroom because I'd supposedly caused it due to us arguing and then sent me a picture of the ill family dog so I would pay for vets bills. I've had enough. Now I'm being charged for a holiday my ex booked alone and didn't go to. Claiming it was cancelled because of me potentially ruining it. I've been asked for £200 but I am refusing to pay because I didn't say to cancel it or agree to pay. I'm being threatened with further action. Has my ex even got a case against me?
Fedup18 - 2-Mar-18 @ 8:31 PM
Child maintanene options are struggling to get any payment whatsoever with a £2000 debt rising weekly could I use a small claim court to enforce some kind of payment?
Smurf - 23-Feb-18 @ 6:14 PM
Nope - Your Question:
I have a court order which instructs my ex husband to pay half of the negative equity that was in our former house before it was, half of the conveyancing costs and half of the estate agents costs. He refused to pay a penny so I had to pay the lot. Can I use the Small Claims Court to recover what he owes me - around £6,000?

Our Response:
You should refer the original court order back to court to be enforced.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Feb-18 @ 11:06 AM
I have a court order which instructs my ex husband to pay half of the negative equity that was in our former house before it was, half of the conveyancing costs and half of the estate agents costs. He refused to pay a penny so I had to pay the lot. Can I use the Small Claims Court to recover what he owes me - around £6,000?
Nope - 18-Feb-18 @ 4:00 PM
Lnb - Your Question:
I am trying to recover a debt of £2700 from someone I ran a business with. We were equal directors and I had to personally pay outstanding HMRC debts from when business was trading. This is half the amount paid.Any advice

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here , which should help you further.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Dec-17 @ 10:42 AM
I am trying to recover a debt of £2700 from someone I used to own a business with. We we equal company directors and the business closed a year ago. We had outstanding HMRC debts from when trading and I've had to pay these personally. The amount is half what I've paid. Any advice? I tried contacting them including hand delivering a letter to address
Lnb - 18-Dec-17 @ 6:50 PM
I am trying to recover a debt of £2700 from someone I ran a business with. We were equal directors and I had to personally pay outstanding HMRC debts from when business was trading. This is half the amount paid. Any advice
Lnb - 18-Dec-17 @ 6:34 PM
Tipton90 - Your Question:
I took a loan out for my ex partner in September 2016,we had a written agreement between ourselves on the official loan papers. He only repaid two installments and requested two repayment holidays which incurred interest. We shortly after split and he failed to repay the agreed amount each month. He promised each month to pay but failed. I have emails,Facebook messages and texts where he admits to owing the money etc. It's now 14months on and still no avail, I began to struggle and I had to resort to 0% money transfer in order to clear the bank loan. Therefore the money is still outstanding but I means I can pay the minimum repayments in order to have some quality of life instead of all the financial worry. I've started a claim but iam unsure how to make the initial statement. I have all the evidence printed and also instagram posts to demonstrate that he can afford to pay me back as he can afford trips to valencia and treating himself to meals out etc. Please help

Our Response:
You can see more via the CAB link here, which should help you further.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-Nov-17 @ 10:50 AM
I took a loan out for my ex partner in September 2016,we had a written agreement between ourselves on the official loan papers. He only repaid two installments and requested two repayment holidays which incurred interest. We shortly after split and he failed to repay the agreed amount each month. He promised each month to pay but failed. I have emails,Facebook messages and texts where he admits to owing the money etc. It's now 14months on and still no avail, I began to struggle and I had to resort to 0% money transfer in order to clear the bank loan. Therefore the money is still outstanding but I means I can pay the minimum repayments in order to have some quality of life instead of all the financial worry. I've started a claim but iam unsure how to make the initial statement. I have all the evidence printed and also instagram posts to demonstrate that he can afford to pay me back as he can afford trips to valencia and treating himself to meals out etc. Please help
Tipton90 - 29-Nov-17 @ 9:52 AM
I took a loan out for my ex partner in September 2016,we had a written agreement between ourselves on the official loan papers. He only repaid two installments and requested two repayment holidays which incurred interest. We shortly after split and he failed to repay the agreed amount each month. He promised each month to pay but failed. I have emails,Facebook messages and texts where he admits to owing the money etc. It's now 14months on and still no avail, I began to struggle and I had to resort to 0% money transfer in order to clear the bank loan. Therefore the money is still outstanding but I means I can pay the minimum repayments in order to have some quality of life instead of all the financial worry. I've started a claim but iam unsure how to make the initial statement. I have all the evidence printed and also instagram posts to demonstrate that he can afford to pay me back as he can afford trips to valencia and treating himself to meals out etc. Please help
Tipton90 - 24-Nov-17 @ 10:52 PM
For the past year I have been in a controlling relationship which has ended nasty due to domestic violence from my ex partner. He owned the house and after insisting I move in with him rather then waste money renting refused to take any money towards his mortgage or bills so I made a point of paying for all food shopping for us and our children. We now have a baby but due to a violent incident he isn't allowed contact. I left the home and ended the relationship in March and then returned in May and when I did paid to have the entire house to be decorated and furnished throughout, brought new carpets, beds, sofa washing machine etc aswell I lent my ex large sums of money (bank transferred) to help him pay his bills because he refused to go to work! I have been trying to retrieve my contents from the property for over 2 months now but he is constantly making excuses and refusing to let me take items I paid for new and offering silly money for the whole lot! To top it off he is now threatening to take me to court to claim £10k in rent arrears from me ! Can he do this? If I took him to court can I claim back the money I lent him and retrieve my contents?
Mrs B - 25-Oct-17 @ 8:46 PM
Kat - Your Question:
My ex quit his job to start a new career in the same line of business as myself, but refused to take advice and training from me, and therefore earned little to no money for almost a year. He and his ex insisted I had to pay his child maintenance to his ex, he refused to get a part time job to contribute. To keep them quiet (it was a controlling relationship where I ended up losing my own home and living with him and his parents with what at the time seemed like no hope of escaping due to me being forced to keep him on the little I earned) I paid. I am still struggling financially over a year after leaving him because of this, and I want the money back. The money was paid directly from my bank account to his ex (he wouldn't get his own account).Who should I take to court, him or his ex? He already has thousands of pounds of debt he is trying to avoid paying, so is unlikely to pay even with a court order.

Our Response:
You were under no obligation to pay this money, if the money was yours. Only your ex was responsible for paying child maintenance to his ex. It is highly unlikely you would be awarded this money back through the courts, as you willingly agreed to pay. Likewise, if you feel your ex does not have the money to pay, then it really would be pointless taking him to court.
CourtroomAdvice - 5-Oct-17 @ 4:04 PM
My ex quit his job to start a new career in the same line of business as myself, but refused to take advice and training from me, and therefore earned little to no money for almost a year. He and his ex insisted I had to pay his child maintenance to his ex, he refused to get a part time job to contribute. To keep them quiet (it was a controlling relationship where I ended up losing my own home and living with him and his parents with what at the time seemed like no hope of escaping due to me being forced to keep him on the little I earned) I paid. I am still struggling financially over a year after leaving him because of this, and I want the money back. The money was paid directly from my bank account to his ex (he wouldn't get his own account). Who should I take to court, him or his ex? He already has thousands of pounds of debt he is trying to avoid paying, so is unlikely to pay even with a court order.
Kat - 4-Oct-17 @ 8:50 PM
@Slim - If your debt is below £600, your most cost effective option would be to use a county court bailiff. Sam.
Sam*U - 28-Sep-17 @ 4:11 PM
Hello I have won a CCJ but the debtor still refuses to pay. Since the amount owed is less than £600 I cannot send a bailiff to recover the debt. What would be the best course of action to take in order to obtain payment?
Slim - 28-Sep-17 @ 2:57 PM
Audisline - Your Question:
Hi, My ex boyfriend physically abused me and mentally tortured me when we were together but claims he took out a loan for me for car repairs but he squandered the money on a games console and withdrew numerous amountsOf cash from my bank account after he'd transferred it. He's harassedMe and my boyfriend for months and police went to his house and issued him a PIN notice to not contact me, yet here he isn't asking for £1500 or he's taking me to small claims court. After everything I went through the fact he's now trying to get to me again is causing me stress. What should I do?

Our Response:
Unless your partner can prove you owe him the money, then he will not have a case.
CourtroomAdvice - 26-Sep-17 @ 11:05 AM
Hi, My ex boyfriend physically abused me and mentally tortured me when we were together but claims he took out a loan for me for car repairs but he squandered the money on a games console and withdrew numerous amounts Of cash from my bank account after he'd transferred it. He's harassed Me and my boyfriend for months and police went to his house and issued him a PIN notice to not contact me, yet here he isn't asking for £1500 or he's taking me to small claims court. After everything I went through the fact he's now trying to get to me again is causing me stress. What should I do?
Audisline - 25-Sep-17 @ 12:51 PM
Hello, In October 2016, I lent my mother £5,000 to expedite an extension to her house. We agreed in writing that she would pay me back in full by end of Feb 2017. She paid back £1,500 and then told me that she would not be paying the remainder as I had recently been on holiday and therefore she needed the money more than me. After a few weeks of corresponding with her to try and make her see that her position did not make any sense, I sent her a formal letter advising I would be taking legal action if necessary. A month later I started the process. She had admitted the amount owed in full but counterclaimed for costs of supporting in my first year of university in 2003/04. There was never any agreement that I would repay this, the amount of support is exaggerated, and 14 years have passed. Does she have any grounds for making this claim?
Nic - 13-Sep-17 @ 11:28 PM
I won a county court order against a mobile phone shop that stole my phone to pay me £400. He ignored the court order and won't pay. How can I get my money back? Warrant of control says that a bailiff won't go if the amount is less than £600 The text says: "If the amount you are owed is £600 or less, you cannot ask the Enforcement Officer to try and get back your money." So what are my avenues to get my money back
UK_122 - 11-Jun-17 @ 1:22 PM
WP - Your Question:
Last year in February I took on a joint mortgage with my then partner and bought a house. By June of last year I found out she was cheating on me and the relationship broke down and she moved out. Since then I have been trying to make ends meet and keep the house but I simply cannot afford it. My ex has not paid any money towards the bills of the house or mortgage since he left and now the house is up for sale because I cannot afford it on my own. My mother is helping me financially and I am now very stressed because my ex refuses to be involved or respond to any attempts of contact. Can I make a claim against her for her share of the mortgage I have been paying plus other costs incurred over the last year?

Our Response:
In this case you may wish to seek legal advice. A solicitor's letter reminding your ex of the mortgage agreement and that her credit reference may be affected if she defaults on the mortgage and the house is repossessed, may do the trick. A solicitor will also be able to advise whether you can claim her mortgage payments from the proceeds of the house once sold.
CourtroomAdvice - 12-May-17 @ 11:31 AM
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