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Letter Before Small Claim

Last revision Last revision 04/04/2024
Formats FormatsWord and PDF
Size Size2 pages
4.7 - 91 votes
Fill out the template

Last revisionLast revision: 04/04/2024

FormatsAvailable formats: Word and PDF

SizeSize: 2 pages

Option: Help from a lawyer

Rating: 4.7 - 91 votes

Fill out the template

What is a letter before small claim?

A letter before small claim is a letter that is sent before a claim is brought in the Small Claims Court in England and Wales. The letter will be used to explain why the sender believes they have an actionable legal claim against the recipient. The letter will offer the recipient the final opportunity to resolve the matter prior to the instigation of court proceedings.

What are the different types of letters before claim?

If a business intends to instigate a claim for unpaid debt, a different letter is available. This type of claim follows a different pre-action protocol (the 'Debt Protocol'). If an individual person (i.e. not a business) intends to make a claim for debt, then this letter may be used as the debt protocol applies to businesses only.

A different pre-claim letter should also be used in the jurisdiction of Scotland.

What is the difference between a letter before claim and a letter of complaint?

A letter of complaint is a more informal letter. Usually it will invite the recipient to resolve matters informally and the letter will not make detailed reference to any potential future claim, in the way that a letter before claim does.

A letter before claim will serve as a final warning and will provide one final opportunity for the recipient to resolve matters. The letter before claim must include particular information about the future claim. It will provide a specific deadline within which court proceedings will be issued, in the absence of any resolution.

Is it mandatory to send a letter before small claim?

Yes, it is always best to send a letter before small claim. There are rules in place, governing civil claims in the Civil Court. Those rules say that a letter before claim should be sent. The Court will take into account any non-compliance with those rules during any future proceedings.

What does 'small claim' mean?

A small claim refers to a certain 'track' which a case may be allocated to within the Civil Court in England and Wales. The small claims track will be the usual track for:

  • cases that are simple in nature and do not contain any complex features
  • claims which have a value of not more than £10,000
  • where the case concerns personal injuries, the claim for damages must not exceed £1,500 (save for road traffic accidents)
  • where the case is a personal injury claim for road traffic accidents the value of the claim must not exceed £5,000 (save in the case of vulnerable road-users where the limit is £1000)
  • where the case is raised by a residential tenant against a landlord regarding repairs, the estimated cost of the repairs should not to be more than £1,000 and the value of any other related damages should not exceed £1,000

Commonly, cases which are brought before the Small Claims Court relate to:

  • consumer issues, such as faulty goods or services
  • Minor personal injuries such as road traffic incidents
  • disputes against landlords regarding repairs in residential property
  • disputes about the payment of debt (although it should be noted that where the debt is owed to a business by an individual, a different letter should be used).

What has to be done after signing a letter before small claim?

Once the letter has been completed with all the relevant information and signed, it should be sent to the other party. It may be printed, signed and posted to the other party. It may be helpful to have the letter sent by recorded/tracked delivery. It is also acceptable to send the letter electronically via email. It may be helpful in this instance to request a read receipt on the letter.

The other party will be provided with a timeframe within which they must respond to the letter. Where no response is received, or where no satisfactory solution is reached, the claim may be issued in the Small Claims Court.

Which documents should be attached to a letter before small claim?

The sender may wish to include any relevant evidence to support their future claim. This will help to explain the basis of their claim. Evidence may include:

  • text messages
  • emails
  • photographs
  • screenshots
  • audio and video recordings on a disc

What must a letter before small claim contain?

The letter should contain concise details about the claim. The letter should always include the following key information:

  • the basis of the claim
  • a summary of the facts
  • the remedy/outcome sought
  • if a financial remedy is sought, information should be provided to confirm how the amount is calculated

For personal injury and disrepair claims, further specific information must be included in relation to the details of those claims.

What laws apply to a letter before small claim?

The laws that will govern the sender's case will depend upon the nature of the intended claim. Here are some examples of the key legal provisions applicable to common types of small claims:

The process for making civil court claims is governed by The Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Directions. In particular, it is helpful to look at:

It is also helpful to consider the provisions of The Limitation Act 1980 – to ensure any claim will be brought within the required time limit.

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