Prepare for the hearing.
The court will send you the date on which the hearing will be held and details of what you would be required to do. It is a good idea to keep asking the court if you have not heard anything for a month after you have made your claim.
Check the date of the hearing.
The form that tells you when and where the hearing is and its duration is called a “notice of allocation”. You would get a 21 days’ notice at the minimum prior to the hearing. Also, you would be informed as to when you need to pay the hearing fee, unless you are receiving help with the court fee.
If you are occupied on that day, you should try and change your plans. However, if it cannot be avoided, you can use form N244 to ask for another date. Be sure to check the notes on when filling this form. You would have to pay a fee of £255 unless you are getting help with the court fees.
Check what you need to do.
The court would write to you saying what is required of you to do and when. The instructions present in the letter or form are called “directions”.
It is imperative to follow the directions because if you do not, the following might happen:
- You could be made to pay extra – for example, if you do not provide copies of documents, you would have to pay the court to make copies of them.
- The judge can decide to either delay or dismiss your claim.
- You might miss the chance to call your witness.
If you are asked to write a witness statement.
A witness statement is a document given in writing where you are meant to say what you would like the court to know about you dispute. You will not need a witness statement for most small claims but it is useful to have one if there is a crucial point upon which evidence can be given.
If you have been injured, you may require an expert such as a doctor who and provide a reliable opinion on your injury and the extent to which you can recover from it. If you would like to use an expert, you would first need the courts permission and would have to pay the experts fee.
Follow the rules when sending documents.
You would be asked to send copies of documents to the court and the defendant. However, you can only send documents to the defendant via email or fax (if the other side agrees). It is also a good idea to send your documents through a recorded delivery and keep a copy of the postage receipt.
When you receive the defendant’s evidence.
After receiving the defendant’s evidence, it is a good idea to go through it and make notes about where you do not agree with is stated. Also, if you are able to find any evidence that you can prove is false, you should send a copy of the evidence to the court. You will also have to follow the rules pertaining to sending documents to the defendants.
Get ready for going to court.
You need to do the following:
- Put in date order the originals of your evidence that you will be taking to court. Such as, receipts, photos etc.
- Make notes on the main points if you think that would help you remember them.
- Inform your witnesses as to when they should be at court.
- Let the court know if you would require an interpreter (also check if you can get one free of cost)
- Check with the court if you require further assistance due to a disability.
Watch a hearing so you know what happens.
If you are feeling anxious about the hearing, you should consider going to one beforehand so you have an idea of what happens. You can ask the local county court when one is taking place that you can sit in on.