County Court Claims
If you have followed the pre-action process but payment has still not been received, then the next step is to issue county court proceedings. This guide aims to give creditors a brief overview of the claim process.
Step 1 – Issuing the claim
To issue your claim you must file with the court a claim form and particulars of claim. Most cases are now issued out of the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC) if filed by paper, or by the County Court Bulk Centre (CCBC) if issued electronically.
Upon filing a claim, a fee must be paid to the court. The fee that is charged depends on the amount of your claim, including any interest claimed. If your claim is issued by your solicitors you can also claim fixed solicitors costs. Both of these costs are recoverable from the debtor and added to your total claim balance.
Step 2 – service of the claim
Once the claim form has been accepted by the court your claim will be issued and in most cases the court will arrange service of the papers on your debtor.
Step 3 – the debtor’s response
The debtor will have 14 days from the date of service to take action. The most common steps taken by a debtor are:
a) settle the claim in full, bringing the action to an end;
b) admit the claim in full or in part;
c) file an acknowledgement of service indicating that they intend to defend the claim. This action gives the debtor a further 14 days (28 days from service in total) to file their defence;
d) defend the claim;
e) ignore the claim.
The debtor may admit liability for the full balance or just part of it. They may also offer to pay the admitted sum in full or via a repayment plan.
You will have to choose if you accept the admitted sum and the terms of any repayment offer. If you do judgment can be requested.
Should you choose not to accept the admission, you can reject the same and the claim will proceed as if it were defended.
Defending the claim
If a reply is received and the debtor denies any liability or does not agree with the amount claimed, then your claim will become defended. This can result in the matter proceeding to a hearing and a judge making the decision as to whether you are entitled to the sums claimed or not.
More detail on the process of defended claims can be found in our guide to defended claims.
Step 4 – judgment
If you accept the terms of a partial admission you can request judgment on those terms. Any judgment will include the fixed costs (detailed here.)
If a repayment plan is offered that you do not wish to accept, the court may hold a brief hearing to determine at what rate the debtor can afford to repay. If you accept the offer of repayment the judgment will order the debtor to repay you at the agreed rate.
If the debtor fails to file a defence you can request a default judgment for the full amount, further interest and the fixed costs (detailed here.)
Any judgment will be registered against the debtor for a total of 6 years and will have a detrimental affect on their credit rating.
Step 5 – post judgment
If the debtor refuses or fails to pay a judgment, you can ask the court to enforce the same.
There are different methods of enforcement and which one is best suited to your case will depend on a number of factors. Please see our guide to enforcement for further information and guidance.
For more information, please speak to a member of the Debt Recovery Department – someone will be happy to help. Contact Trethowans today on 0800 2800 421.