Published Thursday, 14 February 2013
Understanding the Small Claims Court
The Consumer Council can help you have a better understanding of how to settle disputes for faulty goods and poor service, as well as outlining when and how to use the Small Claims Court.
What should you do?
If you have a complaint about faulty goods or services, you should make sure your complaint is valid and then complain to the business first to give them a chance to sort out the problem.
In most cases, businesses will try and sort out a complaint. However, if that doesn't work you may want to consider using the Small Claims Court.
The Small Claims Court is a low cost, quick and informal way of settling disputes for faulty goods or services up to a fixed amount of £3000 and consumers should not be put off from using it. You don't even need a solicitor or barrister to represent you.
Steps to take to sort out a complaint on faulty goods and poor service
Before going to the Small Claims Court there are a number of steps you can take to help resolve a complaint before considering making a claim through the Small Claims Court.
1. Contact the business to sort out the problem at the earliest opportunity.
2. Follow up with a letter or send an email of complaint to the business.
3. Check if other organisations can help.
4. Write a final letter to the business detailing your complaint. Say the problem is still not fixed.
5. If the problem is still not sorted out think about using the Small Claims Court if the amount involved is not more £3,000.
Types of claims
Among the most common types of claim dealt with in the Small Claims Court are for compensation for faulty services provided, for example by builders, dry cleaners and garages and compensation for faulty goods, for example televisions or washing machines which go wrong.
Some exclusions do apply, for example personal injury, road traffic accidents, libel, slander and the title to land.
For a free copy of the 'Understanding the Small Claims Court' leaflet or if you need to know more about your consumer rights on faulty goods or poor service you can also consult the Consumer Advice Handbook, which will tell you all you need to know.
Contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or download copies at www.consumercouncil.org.uk/publications
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