If complaining by correspondence fails then you are left with only one real alternative and that is to sue.
Suing over a lousy holiday or a defective television is a simple process and you should not be scared of it. On the contrary, you should embrace it, particularly given the fact that the court system for claims involving less than £5000 is specifically designed to help ordinary people – you do not need to either a lawyer to sue nor do you have to have an amazing knowledge of the law. In later blogs I will take you through the process in more detail but how do you start the process after your threatened deadline for court action has been ignored or dismissed?
  • For starters you need to fill out a claim form. You can get one from the reception at your local county court or you can download one from the website of HM Court Service: www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk. This website gives you excellent guidance as well as the form itself.
  • Page one of the form simply requires you to fill in your name and that of the defendant ie. the company or person you are suing. You need to give brief details of the claim and its value. This does not entail any special legal language – if your $4000 holiday to Antigua was spoiled by construction work, appalling accommodation and an infestation of cockroaches then described this as “a breach of contract” or if the holiday was mis-described put “misrepresentation”. You also have to insert the address of the defendant – be careful to put the registered office address of a company which is not necessarily its headquarters. This information is available free from the Companies House website: www.companieshouse.gov.uk.
  • Page two of the form is equally easy. You have to describe the claim. This is your opportunity to mention the construction work, the shabby hotel and the cockroaches. You then sign the form at the bottom.
  • What then? The easiest way to start your action is to post the form to your local court with a fee which the court will advise you about – it is normally about 10% of the claim’s value and is added to your claim. Your cheque should be made payable to “HM Court Service”. Once you have posted the form, the court will do the rest by serving the defendant and notifying you accordingly. In many cases, a claim form will cause the company concerned to make an offer of settlement. Big companies hate small claims of any kind – they are distracting, inconvenient and expensive and these factors can often represent your trump card.