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Small Claims Court – professional legal advice always pays

He who represents himself has a fool for a client.
Abraham Lincoln

In April 2013 the Ministry of Justice increased the small claims limit from £5,000 to £10,000. Excellent news for every do-it-yourself litigant who fancies themself as a lawyer because costs on the small claims track are irrecoverable. Why spend money on legal professionals? What have you got to lose?

Although it may appear easy to prepare for a small claims hearing, a claim may be prejudiced if court directions are not followed, or supporting documents and witness statements are not prepared as a judge would expect. Giving evidence in court can be a daunting experience – and without expert legal advice, it is easy to overlook a point of law that could result in your claim being lost.

A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client

Master Collections recently helped a Master Club member win separate court hearings against two firms of accountants. Master Collections prepared for the hearing by:

  • drafting the witness statements
  • clearly documenting the evidence
  • instructing counsel to represent the member at the hearing.

The accountants in each case decided to represent themselves, with dire consequences. In the first case, the accountant overlooked a legal point, as a result of which his defence was dismissed and judgment entered against him for the outstanding balance plus court fees and interest.

In the second case, it was proven that the accountant had acted unreasonably. Master Collections instructed counsel to consider any procedural points that would defeat the accountant’s defence. Counsel noted that the accountant had not followed court directions requiring the submission of witness statements, and submitted that costs should be awarded in favour of the Master Club member for unreasonable behaviour.

In considering Counsel’s submission, the judge awarded costs for unreasonable behaviour, commenting:

In coming to my decision to award unreasonable conduct costs, I took into account of the two main factors in making the original decision. There was the failure to provide evidence in the form of witness statements to exhibit the documentation such as the agreements; the Defendant had relied upon the agreements being interpreted in their favour to show there was no contract. I find that the Claimant should be entitled to an additional amount of costs, the reason for that essentially being that the Defendant failed to comply with the order of the District Judge in providing supporting witness evidence.

Our advice is clear. Do not contemplate taking on a small claim without first seeking professional legal advice.

As a Master Club member, you automatically get access to a qualified legal manager who will prepare for a small claims hearing at a fixed cost based on the value of the claim. Master Collections has a 95 per cent success rate at small claims hearings, and if you are awarded a County Court Judgment and the defendant refuses to pay, your Master Club membership will entitle you to a range of enforcement options.

When it comes to small claims hearings, Master Club is the answer.

Find out more about Master Club >>

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If you are owed money from a debtor call award winning credit professional and legal executive Carlo Pegna on 01920 481467 for a FREE debt recovery assessment.