What happens if someone makes a money claim against you, saying you owe them money, and how you can respond or defend yourself
You may have to go to court if you don’t owe the money, and you defend the case.
If your case is a small claim - under Â£10,000 - it may be dealt with using written evidence, without a hearing.
If there is a hearing, you can:
- represent yourself
- ask someone to speak on your behalf, like your partner or an advice worker - you must get the court's permission
- pay for a solicitor to represent you
Small claims hearings can be held in the judge's room or a court-room at the your local county court.
Cases over Â£10,000
If the other person says you owe more than Â£10,000, there may be a more formal hearing, and you should get legal advice.
After the hearing
The court will send you a letter giving you its decision.
If you disagree with the decision, you have 21 days from the date of the decision to appeal. The letter will explain how to do this.
If you don’t owe the other person or business money, you can defend the claim.
Fill in the defence/counterclaim form and return it to the court.
Alternatively, use Money Claim Online if the claim was made online.
After you reply
The court will decide if you owe the money.
It may ask you for more information, and will send you a letter if you have to go to a court hearing.
If the other person or business owes you money
If you think the other person or business owes you money, you can defend yourself and make a claim against them. This is known as making a ‘counterclaim’.
You may have to pay a court fee.
If you owe some of the money, but don’t agree with the amount, you need to fill in 2 forms and return them to the court:
Explain what you owe and why you don’t owe any more.
You can use Money Claim Online if the claim was made online - this will be quicker than posting the forms.
Paying what you owe
If you want to pay what you owe, you can:
- pay the amount you owe straight away
- offer to pay in instalments
- offer to pay by a certain date
If your offer is rejected
If your offer is rejected, the court will decide how much you owe.
The court may ask you for more information, and will send you a letter if you have to go to a court hearing.
To pay the money, send a cheque or postal order or take the money to the address on the claim form.
Make sure you pay within the deadline and get a receipt, to prove you’ve paid.
Offer to pay
If you can't afford to pay the money in a lump sum, you can offer to pay in instalments or by a given date:
- fill in the admission form
- say on the form how you want to pay - eg by a certain amount per month
- send the form to the address on the claim form
If the other person or business accepts your offer, keep up with the payments. If you don’t, you could be taken back to court and asked to pay more costs.
If you’ve already paid
If you've already paid the money, fill in the defence form and send it back to the court.
If you paid after the other person or business made the claim, you may have to pay their court fees.
If you get a form from the court claiming that you owe someone money, don’t ignore it.
If you don't reply, or miss the deadline, you may end up paying more, and you could get a county court judgment.
You must respond within 14 days of receiving the form.
How to respond
You can respond by filling in court forms, or using Money Claim Online if the claim was made online.
The login details will be on the claim form sent by the court.
Ask for more time to respond
If you need more time, you can ask for another 14 days to respond.
To do this, fill in the acknowledgment of service form in the response pack, and return it to the court.
This will show that you’re looking at the claim, not ignoring it, and will give you a total of 28 days to reply.
Court claims in Scotland
The law is different in Scotland - see guidance from the Accountant in Bankruptcy (Scotland’s insolvency service).