By Tiernan Cannon
Have you have found yourself the victim of faulty goods, bad workmanship or minor damage to property, and the retailer or service provider responsible isn’t prepared to remedy the situation? If you’re facing a dead end, then pursuing a Small Claim through the courts could be the best path.
The aim of the Small Claims procedure (also known as the Small Claims Court) is to provide a relatively inexpensive, quick and easy way for consumers and businesses to resolve certain disputes without the need to employ a solicitor or wade through mountains of red tape.
According to the Consumer and Competition Protection Commission, making use of the Small Claims procedure is only applicable for claims that don’t exceed €2,000. The Small Claims procedure doesn’t deal with debts, personal injuries or breaches of leasing agreements. Claims can be made for faulty goods, bad workmanship or minor damage to property.
How to claim
You can directly lodge your claim via courts.ie, or download the Small Claim application form from the site and send it to the Small Claims Registrar. If you’re making a claim against a company rather than a person, the CCPC advises sourcing the correct name from the Companies Registration Office.
You’ll have to pay an application fee of €25, which you can submit with your application form. Make sure your mind is made up, as this is non-refundable.
Once your claim has been processed, the respondent (the person you are claiming against) will be notified of the claim, with a deadline of 15 days provided for a response – they can admit the claim and pay immediately or with conditions such as the return of goods; request payment be made in instalments; or deny the claim/make a counter-claim. If they fail to respond within the 15-day limit then the claim will be automatically noted as undisputed.
In the event of a disputed claim that can’t be resolved, a date will be set for a hearing in the District Court, for which you’re advised to seek legal advice. If you’re not happy with the decision you can appeal within 14 days.
For more information and advice on making a Small Claim, see www.citizensinformation.ie.