Len Dastard, consumer law heavyweight vs the Small Claims Court Part 2

30 September 2010

Hola lectores. I am Len Dastard – a litigation executive writing for Bitterwallet, in my guise of a Mexican wrestling legend. Today I will take your hand further along our journey though process of the Small Claims Court. I ask you to be prepared and stay sharp. Escuche arriba...

My previous article on the Small Claims Court finished with a brief introduction on how long the Defendant would have to file their defence. This next installment will deal with preparation leading up to the trial.

"Filing" means getting the document sent to the court on time. The Defendant should ensure that their defence:

• Contains the names of both parties
• Shows the claim number
• Responds to all allegations (denying or admitting); and
• Is signed by the Defendant and there is a valid Statement of Truth

Once the court receive this defence they will send a copy to you and then give directions - this is a timetable imposed on the parties by the court for issues to be dealt with.

The Small Claims Court differs greatly from the other courts in that the parties exchange all of their evidence and documents before a trial. There's only one exception to this and this would be documents that are privileged between solicitor and client. If you're not instructing a solicitor then you wouldn't worry about this.

As soon as you receive the timetable from the court you then have to stick to the dates. It is important to be prepared. If you believe that there is a possibility the case can be settled without the need for a trial then you must communicate with the other party. It is important to ensure that any letter sent attempting to settle are headed "Without Prejudice". These letters then cannot be used in court against you.

If you intend to use evidence in your favour it can be:

• Invoices, correspondence, contracts, statement of accounts etc
• Oral testimony at trial
• Witness Statements
• Photographs

The most important thing to be able to do is prove your case. There is no, or little, point in not being sure of the facts or your case. Any hesitation will be noted by any legally represented party and possibly the Judge at court. Look organised. Keep all of your papers in a folder in date order. Keep separate any court correspondence to letters between the parties. It is also important to keep separate all of your evidence so that if you need it in court you are not scrambling around.

That was Part 2. Look out for Part 3 as this will center around what to expect at court and tips (amongst other thing) of cross examining the other party.

If you have a law query regarding your consumer rights (though not the fight for your right to party, alas), you can email me at hello-@-bitterwallet.com. Until the next, permanezca seguro.

TOPICS:   Economy

6 comments

  • Mike
    We took Ebuyer to the small claims court because they refused to repair/refund a SATNAV. They claimed we had misused it rather than it being a manufacturing fault. In their statement to the court, Ebuyer made inaccurate claims (they lied). Morals of the story: (1) Never buy from Ebuyer they are a bunch of lying cu*ts (2) Be very wary of using the small claims court, just because you are in the right doesn't mean you will win.
  • The B.
    Presumably part 3 will be: 1) Turn up to court on the right day before the right time. 2) Go through security. 3) Find then waiting room. 4) Sit and wait for 4 hours until they deem that they can see you despite having given you a precise time slot which you lose if you're late.
  • Rasta P.
    Ha ha, having been through the procedure myself, I can assure you that the opposition will use every dirty trick in the book - firstly, they will request that your claim is struck out because of inadequate Particulars Of Claim (especiallly if you use MCOL), they will ignore Court Directives and they won't sign their documents with a Statement Of Truth. And if you win, they will ask for the Judgement to be set aside. Which it will be. So you're back to square one. And if you do eventually obtain Judgement, they will ignore it and so you have to go back to Court to enforce it (more money).......which means bailiffs. And if the Registered Address is just a maildrop property with no assets, you've pissed your money up against the wall. Welcome to justice, UK style.
  • Mike
    Len, The SATNAV was being used by my in laws at the time it broke. They were using the touch screen when the car went over a small bump causing the screen to crack. My argument was they were using it as intended and therefore it was covered by warranty. Ebuyer said my in laws must have been bashing the screen really hard with the stylus causing it to crack as they were unable to replicate the problem themselves. My in laws are from a generation which looks after and respects property, to be told by Ebuyer that they damaged the SATNAV through misuse was insulting to them. It was my in laws word against a written statement by Ebuyer, and the judge sided with Ebuyer. Now you understand my feelings towards Ebuyer.
  • Rasta P.
    Len, My case was against a very well known tour operator; it's not that I am unhappy with the SCP (I won without legal assistance) but it was an eye-opener as to how their solicitor diosregarded just about every element of the CPR guidelines. They denied pieces of information even existed and I had to ask the Court to issue a Part 18 Notice.....I could go on and on. My point is this; even multi-national companies can fight dirty, be very wary if you decide to take them on.
  • Len B.
    [...] similar to this, the final stage of our three part journey through the Small Claims Court. Part 1 can be found here, while Part 2 is [...]

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