Small claims process
The small claims process allows certain types of claims to be decided informally by the County Court, usually without the need of a solicitor or barrister.
In general a small claim is one where the value to be claimed is not more than £3,000 and which does not relate to personal injuries, road traffic accidents, libel or slander, title to land, legacy or annuity or any property of a marriage.
If the total sum at issue between the same parties exceeds £3,000, the claimant must either:
- proceed by abandoning any amount due over £3,000 (this will be expressly noted)
- issue a civil bill in the County Court for a full hearing (up to £30,000)
The Civil Processing Centre, in Laganside Courts, processes all cases initially, but if a case is disputed it is then transferred to the office that is specified within the original application for hearing.
There are two types of small claim:
- liquidated - where the amount of claim is set, for example, loans or goods and services not paid for
- unliquidated - where the amount is estimated, for example, damage to property, faulty goods or workmanship
Once a case has been submitted to the Civil Processing Centre and verified, the respondent (the person against whom the claim is made) is then posted a small claims pack giving all relevant information in relation to the case, including a copy of the completed small claims application form.
The court does not pay the amount that is awarded; it only decides who is liable. A Decree or Order made by the Small Claims Court is a County Court Judgment (CCJ) and may affect a respondent's credit status. It may also affect an applicant’s credit status if a successful counterclaim is made.
To find out more information about the small claims application procedure contact the Civil Processing Team at:
Enforcement of Judgments Office
Before beginning the small claim process, the Enforcement of Judgments Office can search for a person or firm for a small fee. This will show if there are any enforced judgments already in existence against the respondent within the last six years.
You can then use this information to help you to decide whether or not it would be practical for you to proceed with this action.
Even if you succeed with your claim, if the respondent has other judgments lodged with the Enforcement of Judgments Office, you may find that you will not get your money back immediately, if at all.
To find out more information about fees and how to get an Enforcement of Judgments Office search, contact them at:
The fee for your small claim application will depend on the amount you wish to claim.
If your claim is successful, the respondent will be ordered to pay you the amount decided by the Judge, plus the application fee along with any other costs awarded. If you are not successful, the respondent will not be ordered to pay you anything and you will not receive your fee back.
European Small Claims Procedure
Following the UK's exit from the EU, any cases ongoing on 31 December 2020 will continue to be processed. Any cases lodged after 11.00pm on 31 December will not be processed.
There is no provision for new incoming or outgoing European Small Claims after 31 December 2020 (this includes the Republic of Ireland).
However, you may want to consider using a process where the respondent resides to try to claim your money back
If you wish to issue a small claim to a respondent (the person against whom the claim is made) who lives outside Northern Ireland but within the UK, you can still use the Northern Ireland small claims procedure.
Small claims online
This service allows the public and businesses to make a small claims application outside normal working hours and track the progress of the application online.