Quick Guide: Your Claim Value V’s Potential Legal Costs
If you are in any kind of dispute where there is money owed to you, or you believe compensation should be paid, the sums involved can seem like a lot. However you have to be careful to make sure that the cost of collecting any monies or compensation are not out of proportion to the money you are claiming. There are steps that you can take before entering into litigation which may resolve the problem without the need for court action.
Actions to take
The first step is to try and reach agreement with whoever owes you money. You should first write them a letter setting out what you say they owe you and why. (If for example you are a sub-contractor and are owed money by the main contractor, include a copy of any invoices, and a clear statement of the work done.) If you want to preserve a working relationship with the person who owes you money you will need to be diplomatic. On the other hand it often pays to show you mean business. In the event that you cannot persuade him to pay in any other way, you may have to threaten legal proceedings.
When court action becomes necessary
Supposing you have decided that the only way to recover your money is to go to court. In this case you will have to pay a visit to your local County Court. Here the court staff will help you to obtain the right claim form. You must fill it in carefully stating the amount you are claiming and the reason why the money is owed. You will have to pay a fee for lodging your claim, but should get that back if you win your case.
How much is the value of your claim?
Where you have a claim for £10,000 or less and take it to Court, your claim will probably be allocated to the “small claims track”. The procedure on this track will be more informal than court procedure often is. This is because it is designed for people fighting their own cases without being represented. You can of course choose to be represented by a solicitor or barrister if you so choose. The snag is that even if you win, you almost certainly will not get back any fees for your lawyer. On the other hand, some expenses you may be able to recover. These include your own travel expenses to court and the cost of employing an expert witness, provided the Judge gives you permission to use one.
Mediation can be less expensive
The other problem with taking a case all the way to trial is that you can never be absolutely sure of the result. This is one of the reasons why the judge will probably adjourn your case for ”mediation.” More on mediation here. If you can resolve your differences in this way it will save you the stress and time spent as well as any expense of preparing for and engaging in a trial.