Historically, if a debtor refused to pay for goods or services it would be the almost exclusive domain of a solicitor to raise court proceedings on your behalf. With the advent of a concerted effort to make justice accessible to all it has been possible for some time for companies to issue proceedings without the necessity of instructing legal advisors.
However, a salutary warning to litigants in person was provided by the Supreme Court in Barton v Wright Hassell LLP  where the Court has made it clear that no special treatment should be afforded to those who embark on legal proceedings without specialised legal assistance. In short, if you decide to issue proceedings yourself then the mandatory court rules and procedures will still be applied rigorously by the courts. It is therefore imperative that you are aware of and comply with the court rules. The ultimate risk of failing to do so could result in your claim being struck out without any prospect of recovering the debt, despite having a good claim.
The Civil Procedure Rules (Rules) were introduced with the intention of providing a consolidated and “easy to understand” set of rules that a member of the public can access without necessity for legal representation. Therefore it is important to familiarise yourself with the Rules before issuing court proceedings and ensure that deadlines are noted carefully leaving sufficient time to comply with the same.
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service do have useful guidance notes online and you should take advantage of these wherever possible. However, the Court Service makes it clear that these are for “guidance” purposes only and that their staff do not provide legal advice.
The Rules are there to assist and help you through the court process and they should be referred to at each step of the process. If your claim is for a debt of £10,000 or less then it is more likely than not that the small claim track procedure will be relevant. This procedure whilst not as prescriptive as for claims in excess of £10,000 should nevertheless be treated with equal respect.
If you are in any doubt about the correct procedure to follow then it is always advisable to seek professional legal advice to avoid the risk of being on the receiving end of an adverse costs order or at worst losing the right to claim sums owed to you.
Taylor Walton will be running a free seminar on Thursday 7th March at Beales Hotel (Comet Way, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9NG) aimed at assisting owner managed businesses with the necessary skills on how they can issue proceedings themselves. If you are interested in attending this seminar then please contact our marketing department on 01582 390568 or email email@example.com.
Should you have any questions on the topic, then please feel free to contact Saljuq Haider (firstname.lastname@example.org). Alternatively, you can call our Commercial Litigation team on 01582 731161.