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Have you had your day in small claims court?

Melanie Grant - One Show team | 15:05 UK time, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Can't see the film? Watch it here.

Going to small claims court isn't the drama you might think.

Dom Littlewood met Judge Stephen Gold at Kingston County Court to find out more.

Every year over a million small claims are made and only around 50,000 of those will result in a hearing.

And even if it does get to a hearing, on average it only lasts for an hour and 20 minutes!

When all else has failed, it can be a very straightforward way to finally get your little piece of justice.

You can issue claims for a variety of reasons, including:
• someone owing you money;
• bad workmanship;
• damage to property;
• road traffic accidents;
• personal injury;
• goods not supplied; and
• faulty goods.

Both parties will be invited to sit and give their evidence. A decision will normally be given straight away.

And if you use the online small claims procedure at moneyclaim.gov.uk, forget about big scary courtrooms, you may not need to go any further than your living room.

Money Claim online only applies to England and Wales.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own small claims procedures, with some different rules and lower limits.

See also: Scottish Courts: Small Claims 

See also: Northern Ireland Courts: Small Claims

But before you go to small claims court consider:

1. Does the person or company have the funds to pay up if you're successful? There isn't a central fund which pays out.

2. Can this dispute be resolved before getting as far as court?

The National Mediation Helpline on 0845 60 30 809 can help or visit the website: National Mediation Helpline.

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