The County Court
The County Court, often referred to as the Small Claims Court deals with civil matters, such as:
- Claims for debt repayment, including enforcing court orders and return of goods bought on credit,
- Personal Injury
- Breach of contract concerning goods or property
- Family issues such as divorce or adoption
- Housing disputes, including mortgage and council rent arrears and re-possession.
There are 216 County Courts throughout England and Wales dealing with all
but the most complicated civil law proceedings.
Most County Court cases are between people or companies who believe that someone owes them money. Claims for small amounts are generally straightforward and there is usually no need for those involved to use solicitors.
In certain circumstances case management conferences and other applications may be heard, whenever appropriate, by means of a telephone conference. To do this the parties or their legal representative should make arrangements with the relevant court.
Forms to issue a claim can be obtained form any County Court and staff are happy to provide guidance in filling them in. However they cannot give legal advice,but free advice is available from law centres and the Citizen's Advice Bureau. Certain forms are available on this website and can be completed and sent to your nearest County Court. Certain forms can now be completed and submitted on line.
The court will require you to pay a fee to issue the claim, but this will depend on the amount you are actually claiming.
Once a claim has been issued, a copy will be sent to the defendant inviting them to say whether they agree that they owe the money or if they want to dispute the claim. In the event of a dispute both parties will usually be asked to attend a hearing before a judge. The hearing will be in private and informal.
After the hearing you will be sent an order, sometimes called a judgment, which sets out the judge's decision. Judgments which relate to payment of money are almost all recorded on the Register of County Court Judgments. This information is used by banks, building societies and credit companies to check an individual's creditworthiness and may therefore affect the financial status of a debtor.
If a defendant fails to pay the debt once ordered to do so by the Judge, you can ask the court to try and recover the money on your behalf enforcing a judgment.