What is a small claim?

Small claims are defined in the court rules as claims for sums of money of under £10,000.  Every case before the court is allocated to a “track” and each track has different rules.  One of the three tracks is for small claims defined as above (there are different rules if the claim involves a personal injury or housing disrepair but for the purposes of this note I have assumed that the claim is not about either of those categories of dispute).  If your case is complex or raises important issues it can be allocated to or moved to a different track but the normal rule is that a case about a sum of less than £10,000 will be dealt with under the small claims procedure.

What type of cases can be small claims?

Here are some examples of the types of small claims people can raise.

  • Pursuing unpaid invoices.
  • Breach of contract claims such as poor service or faulty products.
  • Sale of goods and services disputes.
  • Claims for unpaid rent.
  • Building disputes
  • Landlord / Tenant repair disputes
  • Professional negligence claims.

Can I claim my costs from the other side in the case?

In English civil litigation, costs are essentially to costs of going to court. This can include solicitors’ fees and disbursements of the parties such as costs of personal service by a process server, court fees, expert costs etc.

Can I get legal aid for my civil or debt case?

Legal aid will not normally be granted to you to pursue or defend a small claim.

How can I make a small claim?

If you know the claim amount:

The court fee is based on the amount you’re claiming, plus interest.

Claim amountPaper form feeOnline claim fee
Up to £300£35£25
£300.01 to £500£50£35
£500.01 to £1,000£70£60
£1,000.01 to £1,500£80£70
£1,500.01 to £3,000£115£105
£3,000.01 to £5,000£205£185
£5,000.01 to £10,000£455£410
£10,000.01 to £100,0005% of the claim4.5% of the claim
£100,000.01 to £200,0005% of the claimYou cannot make a claim online
More than £200,000£10,000You cannot make a claim online

To calculate 5% of the value of the claim, take the amount you’re claiming and multiply it by 0.05. If necessary, round down the result to the nearest 1p.

The fee will be calculated for you if you make your claim online.

If you are on a low income you may qualify for an exemption from court fees.  You will need to ask the court staff about this if you believe that this might apply in your case.

If you do not know the claim amount:

Use the paper claim form if you do not know the exact amount – you cannot make a claim online.

How can I make a small claim?

If you are wanting to bring a small claim I strongly recommend that you consider doing so through Money Claims Online which is a relatively easy electronic method for issuing court proceedings.  The website address is:


You will be asked for evidence in support of your case. What makes good evidence will depend on the problem. It could include things like:

  • a letter or a receipt
  • photos of damage caused
  • estimates or invoices – for example, for repairs
  • a statement from someone who saw what happened
  • correspondence between the parties (unless the communication is marked “without prejudice”

Are there any rules I must follow when making my small claim?

Before you start a small claim, you should try to solve the problem another way if you can – for example, by making a complaint or using a formal mediation service.

If you decide to go to court, you will be expected to stick to rules that cover court action. These rules are set out by the Ministry of Justice and include:

Does a court order guarantee payment from the other side?

Always remember that getting a judgement from the court in your favour does not guarantee payment.  You need to decide that it is worth the risk of “throwing good money after bad” before pursuing a claim.

To ask our civil litigation team a question, please contact us using the form below or call our team on 01392 256854.