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 can choose to pay the full amount.
- You can pay the amount that you think is owing.
- You can defend the claim.
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.
Asking for more Time to Respond
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.
Paying the Full Amount
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.
Unable to Pay the Full Amount at Once
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.
Claims for Unspecified Amounts
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.
Payment Already Made
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.
Paying Some of the Money
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:
- The admission form states how much you will pay.
- The defence form explains why you believe you do not owe the full amount.
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.
Claims for Specified Amounts
Claims for Unspecified Amounts
- Download and fill in ‘Admission (unspecified amount and non-money claims) N9C‘.
- Download and fill in ‘Defence / Counterclaim (Unspecified amount and non-money claims) N9D‘.
If the Offer gets Rejected
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.
Defend a Court Claim for Money
You need a valid reason to defend a court claim for money such as:
- You think you do not owe any money.
- You already paid off the debt.
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.
- Specified Amounts: Download and fill in ‘Defence / Counterclaim (Specified amount) N9B’.
- Unspecified Amounts: Download and fill in ‘Defence / Counterclaim (Unspecified amount and non-money claims) N9D’.
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.
Attending a Court Hearing
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:
- Get advice from someone at the court (does not need to be a lawyer).
- Ask another person to speak on your behalf. In some cases, you will need permission by the court to do this.
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.
Decision after the Hearing
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.
Appeal a Hearing Decision
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.