Money Claim Online
Money claim online is the online portal for starting simple court claims. It is an alternative to the traditional method of issuing a civil claim, albeit that has also been streamlined in recent years. Any claims issued using papers (sending a paper completed claim form to the court) are issued centrally at the County Court Money Claims Centre.
What Is The Difference?
There are a number of differences between using money claim online and issuing a claim in the county court bulk centre. Here are the main ones to consider.
The first is in relation to fees. Money claim online is cheaper to use than the bulk centre. The current fee schedules can be found here. They are not significantly cheaper for lower value claims, such as small claims but if you have a number of claims to issue over the course of a year, issuing online savings might add up, especially with court fees generally having increased significantly in March 2015.
The difference in fees really kicks in for higher value claims. For example, a claim for £2,500 issued at the bulk centre would incur a fee of £115, whereas if issued using money claim online would incur a fee of £105.
Obviously, the online system requires payment online of the fee by credit card or debit card.
What Can Be Claimed
Money claim online limits the maximum sum possible to claim, to £100,000. If it is more than that amount, it will need to be issued at the bulk centre. Small claims are those up to a value of £10,000 so it doesn’t particularly affect the claims we are giving guidance on, but the limit is useful to know.
It can only be used when the sum of money claimed is specified. It cannot be used for example, if the sum to be awarded needs to be assessed by the court and has not been specified in the claim form.
It cannot be used for injury claims. It does not have a facility to deal with fee remissions or claims by those with legal aid.
Limitation Of Actions
Claims generally have so long to be brought to court before the expire due to “statutory limitation”. As a general rule of thumb (and in all circumstances you should get advice on the date your particular claim expires), you have six years to bring a claim for breach of contract or other claims.
If a claim is being brought very last minute, money claim online might bring valuable extra time. A paper claim form sent to the court with the fee, will need time to reach the processing centre in the post. So to be safe, it needs to be sent prior to the deadline. Money claim online is available 24/7 so a claim literally can be left to the eleventh hour on the final day of limitation to be issued online. It does however, require registration which can slow down the process of issuing a claim.
Detail In The Claim
This is the main area where money claim online is limited. The particulars of claim section, which is to be used to explain what the claim is about and what sum is claimed, is restricted to a maximum of 24 lines of 45 characters and a total of 1080 characters. It leaves very little room indeed. This often results in people cramming brief and badly worded details of the claim. It is better to avoid cramming as a lack of detail might affect the prospects of succeeding at trial.
There is a tick box option however, for the person issuing the claim to elect to send particulars of claim to the defendant and the court separately, if there isn’t enough room. They must be sent within 14 days of the claim being issued.
How Does A Defendant Respond To A Claim Started Online?
The forms are the same but can be completed online, using the references inserted by the court onto the claim form. There is an option to send alternative forms of responses, which is particularly useful if it is not possible to include all the necessary detail in the standard defence form. For example, a full defence might instead be created as a Microsoft Word file running to a number of pages. That could be printed off, signed, scanned in as a pdf and then emailed to the court.
If the defendant fails to file a defence in time, the claimant can go online to request judgment in default. It might take a number of days for the court staff to process the papers.
After judgment has been obtained, it is even possible to instruct the County Court Bailiff to enforce the judgment online. Remember however, that the bailiff might not be the best method of enforcement so make sure you carry out your research as to what method of enforcement will give you the best chance of successfully recovering the money the court has ordered the debtor to pay.