What should you do if someone makes a money claim against you and says you owe them money? Find out how to respond to a court claim for money or defend it.
HOW TO RESPOND: The county court will send you a form if someone makes a claim saying you owe them money.
If you get this form you must make a response within fourteen (14) days.
There are several different ways of responding to a court claim for money:
You must have a valid reason for defending a money claim made against you. Generally, reasons would be if you think you do not owe any money or you already paid off the debt.
In some cases, you can get another 14 days to respond to a court claim for money. As a rule, it only applies to a defence claim or an offer to pay an amount owed.
Download form N9 titled 'Response pack' from HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Complete the acknowledgement of service section in the response pack. Send the document to the court address written on the claim form.
There are several methods you can use to pay the full amount. Often, the most convenient is sending a cheque or postal order. If so, make it payable to the claimant.
The claimant is the person or the organisation to whom you owe money. You will see their full name and address written on the claim form.
If you prefer, the court also allows you to pay the claimant in person. But, you should always keep proof of the payment if you choose this option. Get a receipt from the claimant if you do not have bank records showing you paid.
Another option of payment is paying in installments or offering to pay by a certain date. Download and use form N9A for specified amounts and form N9C for unspecified amounts.
Note: The court decides a payment method if the claimant refuses to accept your offer. But, failing to keep up the payments can result in another court case and extra costs.
You should use form N9A if the money claim against you is for an unspecified amount. You can ask the court to determine how much you owe or you can offer to pay a set amount.
But, in some cases you may need to give further information at a hearing. This usually happens when you ask the court to decide or when the claimant rejects the offer. If you do need to attend a hearing the court will inform you of the date and venue for the hearing.
In cases whereby you already paid the claimant you will need to defend the claim. There may still be extra court fees to pay if your payment got made after the claimant makes the claim.
There may be situations where you do not agree with the amount stated on the claim form. In this case, you can apply to the court to pay the amount that you think you owe. If so, you need to send an admission and a defence to the court:
But, the actual forms required depend on whether the claim is for a 'specified' fixed amount or an 'unspecified' one.
Note: If the claim got made online you can use Money Claim Online instead.
If the claimant rejects your offer the court decides how much is owing. In some cases you must then give further information at a hearing. If you do need to attend a hearing the court will inform you of the date and venue.
You need a valid reason to defend a court claim for money such as:
You can use the same forms if you think the claimant owes money to you. Making a claim against a claimant has the title of 'counterclaim'. Be aware that there may be some court fees when making counterclaims.
The court decides whether you owe the money and how much is owing. In some cases you must then give further information at a hearing. If you do need to attend a hearing the court will inform you of the date and venue.
You will have several options if a court hearing goes ahead. The law allows you to represent yourself or pay for a barrister (solicitor) to represent you. You can also:
Claims less than £10,000 can get heard in the judge's room or in a courtroom of a county court. As a rule, there will be a formal hearing for claims over this amount.
In most cases, the court issues a decision on the same day as the hearing. They will also send a copy of the decision to the claimant by postal methods.
What happens if you win your case hearing at the small claims court? Winning the case means the court then orders the person or the business (the debtor) to make a payment to you. If the debtor ignore the court order there are other ways the court can collect the payment from them.
If you believe the judge made an error during your hearing you can appeal the decision. The appeal must take place within 21 days of getting the decision. Your local Citizens Advice office can offer more information on appealing a decision.
How to Respond to a Court Claim for Money in the United Kingdom