If you want to issue a money claim against someone in the UK court system to seek under £5,000 using the court service’s online system, beware. You will only be provided with a very limited version of the claim form, which severely restricts the number of characters you can use to explain your case. When I used to practise as a barrister, I regularly defeated claimants using this service. The severe restrictions on space to plead your case means that in very many instances you cannot do so adequately, with the result that your case is stymied at the later trial.
Unfortunately I have recently also been a victim of this crappy service. My wife and I issued a claim against a company called Waterglen Limited. It’s a leasehold management company but I use the word ‘management’ in the loosest possible sense of the term: they collect money and do virtually nothing else. We have moved out of the leasehold flat which that company ‘managed’. It failed to repay us an outstanding service charge. Consequently we issued a claim against Waterglen using Northampton County Court’s bulk issue online service.
The upshot of this is that we have never seen an actual sealed copy of our own claim form. Instead we just got sent an unsealed, undated copy with the words “Reference Only” stamped on it. Northampton County Court served the claim form on Waterglen Limited at the address the company asked us to serve them at. They did not defend the claim. When we applied for judgment in default, Waterglen Limited falsely claimed that we had not sent them a letter before action and that we had used the incorrect address for service. Consequently, our claim was set aside and we’ve been told to serve the claim form again, using the correct address. However, we don’t have the claim form! I’ll be going down to the county court in person to see if I can obtain an actual copy of my own claim form but in the meantime, there’s a couple of morals to this story:
- do not use the Northampton County Court bulk issue service if you can avoid it
- Waterglen Limited is a company practises deception at every turn. If you have any dealings with them, ensure that all your correspondence is in writing and do not trust them further than you could throw them.