Small Claims Court

What happens in court and legal help

Hearings in the small claims court are informal and typically held in public, though they can be heard in private with the agreement of both parties, or in certain other circumstances.

Evidence doesn’t have to be given on oath, and the judge can limit the duration and scope of cross-examination. If you wish, you can take a lay representative – such as a friend, relative or adviser – to speak for you.

At the end of the hearing the judge tells you their decision and briefly explains the reasons behind it. After the hearing, both you and the defendant will be sent a copy of the judgment.

If you win your case, the defendant is likely to have to pay your court fees. Visit the HM Courts & Tribunals Service for more information on court fees.

You may also be able to claim for loss of earnings while attending court, travelling and overnight expenses, and the costs of any witnesses and experts (such as a doctor or surveyor) you call.

But these aren’t automatic – they’re awarded at the judge’s discretion. And if you use a solicitor, your legal costs can’t normally be recovered.

Do I need legal help?

You can represent yourself in the small claims court. Most people choose not to use solicitors.

But there may be times when you decide you want to seek advice from a solicitor – if the claim is particularly complicated or likely to be disputed, for example. You should note, though, that:

  • legal aid is not usually available for small claims cases
  • legal costs aren’t normally recoverable

Small Claims Court business advice based on Crown Copyright © 2004-2013

This business advice guide covers the Small Claims process in England & Wales. The Small Claims process in Scotland can be found at the Scottish Courts web site

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1 Comment

  1. I have been cheated out of £10,000. Can I still take this to the small claims court?

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