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In the post below is a set of FAQ's sent by RLP to one alleged shoplifter and in my opinion it is full of misleading information. I have tried to respond in a factual way but if I am wrong, I would hope to be picked up on it. The post below could not have been made without the excellent assistance of Stu007. While it is my strong belief the above is factual, I am not legally trained however to go further, here are two opinion from Richard B Mawrey QC on behalf of RLP http://www.lossprevention.co.uk/pdf/RLP~opinion.pdf http://www.lossprevention.co.uk/pdf/Richard%20Mawrey%20QC%20Advice%202.pdf and also the claim from Citizens Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/Migrated_Documents/corporate/uncivil-recovery.pdf and the rebuttal from RLP http://www.lossprevention.co.uk/pdf/CAB%20Referral.pdf In the following links are threads related to the judgement mentioned above. http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?356933-Oxford-Retail-Loss-Prevention-A-Retailer&p=3898857&viewfull=1#post3898857 This is the short judgement. If you feel like trawling through 150 pages, here is the full judgement on this thread. http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?369114-Trial-transcript-A-Retailer-v-Ms-B-and-Ms-K-Oxford-County-Court-9-May-2012&p=4017030&viewfull=1#post4017030
Suing in the County Court is very easy and pretty cheap. Since April 2013 the limits for Small Claims has been increased to £10,000. You don’t need any special language. You don’t need any special skills – and if you read up a bit before you start – and take advice from the Consumer Action Group – you will have very little difficulty. When dealing with big retailers of goods or services, making a Small Claim in the County Court is generally the only way to break through their rigid procedures and policies in order to force them to take notice of you and to do their job properly. The quicker you start your claim the better. Companies like to get you into protracted but meaningless dialogue so that you end up tired out and you eventually decide to let it go. In addition to this FAQ, please see this much more detailed description of the County Court process . Q. What is a Small Claim? A. A Small Claim is a claim for less than £10,000 and which is unlikely to involve any difficult issues of law and which is likely to take less than 5 hours to deal with at a court hearing. Q. Are there any good sources of information? A. We recommend Patricia Pearl's County Court guide. You can get it from us or from Amazon. It will be cheaper on Amazon - but of course, we would prefer if you buy it from us. There is also lots of information on this website Q. What are the advantages of a Small Claim? A. If you lose your case in court, you will not be responsible for the other side’s costs if they have instructed solicitors. Q. So If I lose I won’t have to pay anything? A. No, you will lose your claim fee and you will lose your allocation fee if you have had to pay one. You may also have to reimburse the other side’s reasonable cost of travel. Q. What is an Allocation / Directions Questionnaire ? A. There is a stage in the proceedings where you will have to complete an allocation/directions questionnaire so that the court can decide what court to hold the hearing in and other matters. It is on the basis of this form that the court will decide to allocate your claim to the Small Claims track. Q. If I win, do I lose anything? A. If you win, you get your claim fee and your allocation fee back from the other side and your reasonable costs of travel. You won't get back anything you have spent on legal advice. Q. Are there other kinds of Claim? A. There is the Fast Track and the Multi-Track. If you lose your claim on these tracks, you will be liable for the other side’s costs. Ouch! Q. Which court will my case be heard in? A. If you are a private individual suing a company then the claim will be heard in your local court. Otherwise the normal rule is that the claim is heard in the local court of the defendant. Q. What if I can’t afford the fees? A. If you don’t have much money, the court fees may be waived. You don’t have to be on benefits for this. You may be employed but have very little available income. Visit your local court office and ask them about it.http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?406096-LEGAL-EX160A-Court-Fees-are-you-exempt.-**Correct-as-at-Feb-2015** Bringing a Claim The courts have had to cut costs so procedures tend to have changed. However, the United Kingdom – but especially England and Wales - have a highly accessible system which is ideal for consumers who want to take on corporate bullies. It is important to adhere to Pre-Action Protocol before issuing a claim..Court expect both parties to take relevant steps pre litigation in an attempt to resolve a dispute. Under new rules brought into force on 1 October 2017, there must be an attempt to enter into correspondence which could go on as long as 90 days before you decide that there is no hope of an agreement and you then issue your letter of claim. Here is a link to the Ministry of Justice PDF document which describes the new pre-action protocol https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/pdf/protocols/pre-action-protocol-for-debt-claims.pdf . Most consumer claims can be started online using the Court Services MoneyClaim service. You will need a credit card or debit card to pay the court fee. The claim will be issued from Northampton Bulk processing Centre and will be transferred to a court if the defendant files a defence. If you have very little money and you want to apply for a fees waiver, then you will have to visit your local court and you will have to begin your claim there. Q. So how do I start? A. Log on to MoneyClaim and open an account. It’s free. Go through the steps and fill out each section of the claims process. Make sure that you identify your defendant as an institution or else you will end up having to travel to their court. Q. There isn’t enough space for me to explain my claim. A. Yes, there is very little space. You get about 1050 characters and you have to work within that.This is not a bad thing because many people want to write far too much.A claim is simply where you state the bare facts of the case. You don’t start putting all of your evidence and other information into the claim. That comes later if the case goes to a hearing. In most consumer claims you would simply want to say that you had an account or bought goods on a certain date and with a certain reference number. The goods failed or your account was mismanaged or that money was taken etc.You don’t need very much space to do this. Q. Isn’t there a way that I can include more detail? A. Yes there is. You will see a checkbox where you can indicate that you will be sending a more detailed Particulars of Claim later. Q. If I check that box, when do I send detailed POC? A. You must send the full POC within 14 days of the claim having been served. You send it to the defendant directly. You must then file a certificate of service with the court within a further 14 days. Q. Doesn’t the court get a copy? Send a copy of the full POC to the court once a defence has been filed and the case has been transferred to your local court. Then send it to your local court.You must also file a N215 Certificate of Service within 14 days of the claim being issued. Q. What is the difference between filing documents and serving documents? A. Filing is when you send the documents to the court. Serving is when you send them to the defendant – or to the claimant if it is you who is being sued. Q. How do I draft the full POC? You don’t need any special format – but you must put the name of the claimant and the defendant at the top and also the name of the court and also the claim number. Then it is a good idea to put a bold heading. It will look like this:- After that you can lay out the facts – but remember to keep it brief and factual. Use numbered paragraphs for each point you are making. Keep it short!!! At the end put a statement of truth and sign and date it like this:- Q. So what happens next? A. Well you complete the MoneyClaim form. About two days later it will have been served on the defendant by the court. They then have 14 + 5 days to file an acknowledgement. Q. What if they file an acknowledgment? A. Then they they have 28 days from the date of service to defend the claim. Q. So if they don't acknowledge the claim, they only get 14 days to defend? A. Yes....should they not defend within that 14 days you can proceed to default Judgment. Q. So what happens if they don't defend at all - either after the 14 days or after the 28 days? A. Then you apply for judgment. Q. Do I have to write to the court? A. No you do it online using MoneyClaim. Q. Do I have to remind the defendant or warn them that I'm going to apply for judgment? A. No. You say nothing. You simply apply for judgment. Q. Supposing I don't apply for judgment straightaway, can they still defend? A. Yes, the defendant can file a defence at any time before you get judgment. Q. So I need to do it straightaway? A. Yes. Q. How do I know when the 14 days or the 28 days is up? A. The MoneyClaim system won't let you apply for judgment until the time limit has expired. When it gets close to the time, keep on checking MoneyClaim. You'll suddenly find that it lets you apply for judgment. Q. Do I really get a judgment simply because the other side hasn't responded? A. Yes. It is called a default judgment. However the defendant can try and use a procedure to challenge a default judgment. It is called asking for the judgment to be setaside Q. What happens next? A. After a week or two, you will get a notice from the court saying that you have a judgment in your favour Q. How do I get the money? A. If your claim was for a fixed amount, then you may as well put the bailiffs in. Q. Don't I have to warn the defendant? A. You can do if you want - but it is easier just to press ahead and put the bailiffs in by applying to the court. You will get your £50 bailiff fee back Q. What if the claim was not for a fixed sum? For instance I wanted to leave damages to the judge to decide or I wanted a default entry removed? A. Then there will have to be a hearing to assess damages or to arrange the order to remove the entry. Q. What happens if the defendant files a defence? A. Then each of you will be sent an allocation questionnaire. Each of you will have to complete it. After that, a decision will be made as to which court the case should be transferred to and also as to which Track the case should be allocated to.The claimant will have to pay a hearing fee subject to the value of the claim. Q. How will I know? A. You will receive a notice - probably from your local court tell you that the case has been transferred there. The judge will also set a date to give directions. Q. What are directions? A. Directions are orders from the court about how the case should be managed. The judge may order that the parties disclose certain documents in advance, for instance. You can write to the court and suggest some directions if, for instance, you feel that the defendant has been withholding evidence which you think that it is reasonable to disclose to you. Q. Will I have to attend the directions hearing? A. The notice which you get from the court will tell you if there is to be a hearing and whether you are required to attend. Have a look at at our County Court familiarisation guide for some ideas as to how to prepare yourself for going to court. - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/content.php?35-Guidance-note-Making-a-County-Court-familiarisation-visit Q. The directions state that both parties must file/serve & exchange documents by a certain date ? A.This is known as Standard Disclosure, in Small Claim Track you can just provide a list of all documents you will rely on and have referred to within your Defence & and Witness Statement.Cases in Fast Track should use the N265 for Standard Disclosure. NB.Anything you do not disclose can not be relied upon or used as evidence. Q. Directions state that both parties should file/serve & exchange Witness Statements by the date stated...is this additional to my defence/claim? A. Yes...this supports and particularises your defence and allows you to refer to case law etc....this should be drafted in your own words and formatted like a statement of case.