Hastings & Co Solicitors win substantial settlement

Hastings & Co Solicitors have recently helped one of their clients win a substantial settlement in connection with a property dispute.

We acted for a client in a dispute with her former partner (we’ll call him Mr X). The parties had previously lived together and when they separated entered into a Separation Agreement. As part of the agreement Mr X agreed to continue paying the mortgage on the family home until their child attained the age of 18. In breach of the agreement Mr X stopped paying the mortgage and applied to the County Court to vary the Separation Agreement. We defended the claim and made a counterclaim against Mr X for damages for breach of the Separation Agreement.

At a court hearing Mr X was ordered to pay our client substantial damages and costs.

 

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialize in litigation and dispute resolution and can advise in connection with disputes between co-owners of property.

T. 01621 876 031

E: liam@hastingsandco.co.uk

Court fee rises

The Ministry of Justice has announced that court fees in the County Court and High Court will rise (in most instances) from 22 April 2014.

For money claims up to £1,500 the fees for issuing claims will stay the same. However, for money claims exceeding £1,500 in value there will be rises across the board and in some cases the increase will be as much as 81%.

Take for example a claim worth between £5,000 and £10,000 the court issue fee will rise from £245 to £445.

For landlords, court fees for issuing claims for possession will rise from £175 to £280.

Comment

The government is trying to reduce the cost burden of the Civil Justice system on taxpayers. However, we strongly believe that having access to justice is a fundamental part of any civilised society. It is a key feature of a democratic society that its citizens should have civil rights and they should have access to justice if those rights are infringed.

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialise in debt collection and litigation. Telephone 01245 835 305 for advice without any obligation.

 

How to make a claim in the small claims court

Strictly speaking there isn’t a “small claims court”, however, claims for less than £10,000 (before 1st April 2013 it was £5,000) in the County Court are usually allocated to the small claims track and these are often referred to by the public as the “small claims court”.

One of the key features of the small claims track is that only limited legal costs are usually recoverable from the opponent. This does not mean that you cannot instruct a solicitor to act for you, however, it does mean that you may not be able to recover all of their charges if you do. Because of this, a lot of claimants and defendants in the small claims track are unrepresented (we call them litigants in person).

This is a step by step guide to starting a small claim.

Step 1 is to try and resolve your dispute before issuing legal proceedings. This can be done by sending the other person a “letter before claim”. The letter should set out what you are claiming and why.

Step 2  is to fill in an N1 Claim Form. The form is fairly self explanatory. A few tips: (1) make sure you put the correct name and address for the defendant, for example, is it Bob the Builder or Bob the Builder Limited? If your contract was with Bob the Builder Limited then you can’t sue Bob the Builder personally. (2) The amount of the court fee is determined by the value of the claim – see court form EX050. (3) You will need to state on the form what your preferred court is. In Essex, there are County Courts in Romford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend and Basildon.

Step 3 is to send 2 copies of the N1 Claim Form to the following address:

County Court Money Claims Centre
PO Box 527
Salford
M5 0BY

You will need to enclose a cheque to cover the court fee. The cheque should be made payable to “HMCTS” (which stands for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service). For every additional defendant send an extra form eg if there are 2 defendant send 3 forms.

Step 4. Within about 7 days the court should “issue” the claim and send it to the defendant by post. The defendant will then have 14 days to file either an acknowledgement of service or a defence. If they file an acknowledgement of service they will then have a further 14 days (ie 28 days in total) to file their defence.

Step 5. This will depend whether the claim is defended or not. If no defence or acknowledgement of service is filed then you can request judgment in default. This is done by completing the Request for Judgment form at the bottom of the Notice of Issue. This is a form which the court sends the claimant once the claim has been issued.

If the claim is defended then the court will send both parties a Directions Questionnaire to complete and return to the court.

Step 6. Once the court has the Directions Questionnaires back it will make “directions”. For small claims the case will usually be listed for a hearing lasting about 1.5 hours and usually the parties would be required to exchange witness statements and documents no later than 14 days prior to the hearing. The whole process usually takes 3-6 months.

Hastings & Co Solicitors are experts in litigation and disputes based in Chelmsford, Essex, acting for clients throughout Essex.

T. 01245 235 835

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.