By: Simon B
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Taking a case through the Civil Courts
Civil court cases are cases brought by someone who wants a judge to decide that another person is in the wrong. This could be for poor work done on your house, or a simple grievance. Many civil cases are accompanied by a claim for a sum of money in compensation for that wrong. For example, you may have bought faulty goods and are unable to get the retailer to return your money. Or you may have been injured as a result of an accident and want compensation. The earlier category ‘Understanding How the Courts Work’ describes how the civil court system works – civil cases go through the County or High Courts or their equivalents in Scotland.
Taking a case to court can be time consuming and expensive. Small claim cases are easier to deal with than the more complex cases, but you do have to think your decision through before proceeding. Make sure that you really have a claim in the first instance. If you’ve bought faulty goods from a retailer, you do have a claim, but if you’ve bought it from a private individual, you usually aren’t able to claim.
Make sure that you can find the person you want to claim from and that he is able to pay you if you do prove that you’re owed money and awarded compensation. In addition, different time limits apply to different types of cases, so check that you aren’t too late to sue.
You may be able to take your own case to court if you’re claiming for less than £5,000, but if you decide you need the help of a solicitor, it can prove expensive. Talk the case over with the Citizens Advice Bureau or Law Centre before you decide to go ahead. If you need the help of a solicitor, these organisations can give you details of suitable ones. Bear in mind that a mediation service may be available to resolve your particular dispute through a trade association or an Ombudsman’s scheme.