The UK County Court system
The UK county court system is a court system that deals with civil matters in England and Wales. It is one of the main trial courts in the country and has jurisdiction over a wide range of disputes, including contract disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, personal injury claims, and debt recovery cases.
The county court system is divided into two main divisions: the small claims track and the fast track. The small claims track deals with claims of up to £10,000, while the fast track deals with claims between £10,000 and £25,000. Cases above £25,000 are typically handled by the High Court.
The county court system is made up of over 170 individual courts, which are spread throughout England and Wales. Each court is presided over by a judge, who is responsible for hearing and deciding cases that are brought before them.
The county court system is designed to be accessible to individuals and businesses alike, with simplified procedures and forms that make it easier for people to represent themselves in court. However, many litigants still choose to hire a solicitor or barrister to represent them, particularly in more complex cases.
The claim form is a document that sets out the details of a claim being made. It is a standard form that must be completed by the claimant (the person/company making the claim) and submitted to the court to start legal proceedings.
The claim form typically includes the following information:
- Parties: The names and addresses of the parties involved in the dispute, including the claimant and the defendant.
- Basis of claim: A brief description of the claim being made, including the legal basis for the claim (such as breach of contract, negligence, or a statutory claim).
- Amount being claimed: The amount being claimed by the claimant, including any interest or costs.
- Supporting documents: Any documents that support the claim, such as contracts, invoices, or correspondence between the parties.
- Court fee: The fee that must be paid to the court to file the claim.
- Statement of truth: A statement by the claimant that the information provided in the claim form is true to the best of their knowledge and belief.
Once the claim form is completed, it must be served on the defendant. The defendant will then have a specified period of time to respond to the claim, either by admitting the claim or defending it. If the defendant defends the claim, a court hearing will usually be scheduled to determine the matter.
Defending a claim
When a defendant receives a claim form from the claimant, they will typically have a set period of time (usually 14 days from the date of service) to respond to the claim. The defendant can respond to the claim in one of two ways: by admitting the claim or by defending the claim.
If the defendant admits the claim, they can either pay the amount claimed or negotiate a settlement with the claimant. If the defendant does not admit the claim, they will need to file a defence with the court setting out their reasons for disputing the claim.
To defend a case, the defendant will need to:
- Prepare a defence: The defendant must prepare a written defence that sets out their reasons for disputing the claim. The defence should include a clear and concise statement of the defendant’s position, as well as any relevant facts or evidence that support their case.
- File the defence: The defence must be filed with the court within the specified time period (usually 14 days from the date of service of the claim form). The defence must be served on the claimant at the same time.
- Attend court: If the claimant and defendant are unable to reach a settlement, a court hearing will usually be scheduled to determine the matter. The defendant will need to attend the hearing and present their case to the judge.
It is important to note that the defendant may also be able to counterclaim against the claimant if they have a claim against the claimant arising from the same dispute. This can be done by filing a counterclaim with the court along with their defence.
Defending a case can be complex, and it is often advisable to seek legal advice before responding to a claim. A solicitor or barrister can help the defendant to prepare their defence and maximize their chances of success.
The County Court website can be found here
How can Parking Cowboys help?
If you’ve received a court claim
- Understand how they can be legally enforced in county court
- Learn about County Court Judgements and the risk is to your credit file
- Consider using our legal service partner, JustAnswer. Click here to make a no-obligation enquiry
Best of luck – we’ll help you through this!