Len Dastard, consumer law heavyweight vs the Small Claims Court Part 2
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
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 [email protected] Until the next, permanezca seguro.