Other Support Available
Our site and the Ultimate Guide provide guidance on the court processes and what to expect. We do not however, provide legal advice or advice on specific claims.
If you want advice on your claim or representation at a small claims trial, then we recommend you obtain the services of a legal professional.
Your primary options are a solicitor and barrister.
You are likely to have a firm of solicitors local to you who might be able to assist.
However, the cost of involving a solicitor could become disproportionate, depending upon the amount of time and involvement you need.
Solicitors typically charge by an hourly rate although you can ask them to quote and they should certainly provide you with an estimate of cost for the initial work and also the potential overall cost.
Hourly rates vary due a number of factors but most notably because of the level of experience of the person that will be carrying out the work and also the geographical location of the offices of the solicitor firm. Typical hourly rates start around £100 for very junior staff but can run to several hundreds per hour for the more experienced.
As legal costs are generally irrecoverable in small claims, it can be difficult to get a solicitor to speak to you about your case, as more often than not, people decide not to go ahead and instruct a solicitor to deal with a small claim. For that reason, solicitors often see speaking to people about a small claim, likely to be dead time on a case unlikely to convert into a fee paying client.
Barristers regularly argue cases before the courts and are specialists in presenting claims before Judges.
Not many people know that it is possible to engage a barrister directly. Most people think it necessary to appoint a solicitor who in turn can appoint a barrister. The perceived cost of engaging so many lawyers often puts people off getting legal advice or representation in small claims.
However, you can instruct a barrister directly without dealing with a solicitor at all, provided the barrister is authorised to allow him / her to take direct instructions. Barristers must be registered with the Bar Council and they have a helpful portal solely focused upon direct access. The link is here.
Direct access barristers regularly accept direct instructions from individuals and business clients.
People often have the belief that a barrister will be very expensive. That is not usually the case. In small claims, the typical fees for representation at a small claim trial, amount to hundreds of pounds, not thousands. Barristers also tend to provide fixed fees, rather than charging at an hourly rate as most solicitors do. Therefore, you have certainty of the cost for the work.
There are other sources of support out there. Some are free and some are not. Whether they are relevant or not, will depend upon the particular facts of your claim but you might want to look at:
Citizen’s Advice Bureau (a broad range of support but in our experience, difficult to get an appointment quickly)
Law Centres (a list of centres or businesses that offer free legal advice, again it can be difficult to get an appointment quicky)
ACAS (specific to employment disputes, not something our site deals with as those usually fall within the Employment Tribunal system, rather than the Small Claims Court
Money Saving Expert (helpful with consumer and money issues)
The Complaining Cow (helpful with consumer problems and complaint raising)