Civil Court Action
What will happen if I ignore your correspondence? - The case will continue. There is an obligation on each party to set out their case, exchange information, and generally to engage in attempts to settle the matter without the need for Court proceedings. Ignoring the claim may lead to the file being transferred to our specialist agent which recovers debts and undisputed claims for damages. Our client may also instruct us to start proceedings. If proceedings are issued this could result in increased liability due to Court costs, interests and costs. An unsatisfied Court Judgment will affect your credit rating. Depending upon the particular case circumstances, enforcement proceedings may then be instigated. The law allows for a civil claim to be issued for up to 6 years after the incident, but if your case arises from a theft, the law allows up to 15 years to bring a claim.
What will happen if I defend the case in Court? - In a defended case a Court may decide upon liability and the level of compensation, on the balance of probability. Civil Courts encourage parties to settle their cases without the need of going to Court wherever possible. There can be both criminal and civil proceedings running separately. If no criminal proceedings, a civil action may still proceed. A criminal conviction is admissible in civil court as evidence of wrongdoing, pursuant to Section 11 Civil Evidence Act 1968. Meaning, where there is a conviction, there is no defence to liability in the civil claim.
In England and Wales, the Practice Direction for Pre-action Conduct and the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 set out the procedure for civil actions (“CPR”). (www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil). The Court has power to impose sanctions on any party who fails to comply with the Practice Direction.
What happens if the case goes to Court and I lose? - If a matter proceeds in the County/Sheriff Court successfully, a Judgment will be ordered against you that will remain on public record for 6 years (5 in Scotland). This will affect your credit rating and your ability to obtain credit. Where Judgment is obtained against you, it will be for the principle sum together with Court fees, Solicitors costs and interest at the rate of 8% per annum which accrues on a daily basis. For a claim over £5,000 the legal costs can be significant and interest will continue to accrue post judgment.
What happens if I don’t pay the Judgment? - There are a number of enforcement outcomes:
Depending upon claim value, a County Court Bailiff or High Court Sheriff may be instructed to levy a Defendant’s assets to the value of the damages, their costs and the sale and admin costs. Once a bailiff has levied goods, they have the power of entry to return to remove the goods for sale, should payment not be made. Further, for a claim in excess of £5,000, interest continues to accrue on the outstanding sum, at the Statutory rate of 8% per annum.
• If a Defendant owns or has an interest in a property or land, a Charging Order may be applied for, preventing disposal of the property, without the charge being satisfied. The principle sum continues to accrue interest whilst the Charge remains unsatisfied. Once obtained, it is possible to apply to the Court for an Order for Sale of the property. The Court will consider the size of the debt, the equity in the property, the defendant’s circumstances, any interest by a joint owner and decide whether to make an Order for Sale. If a sale is ordered, the property will be marketed and upon sale, the Charge satisfied.
• Attachment of Earnings Order to obtain monies deducted directly from a Defendant’s income. Any additional costs of the application are added to the damages.
• Third Party Debt Order, so the Court may order that any money held in a bank account, or any other funds due, that these be paid directly to the Claimant.
• For sums in excess of £750 (£1,500 in Scotland) it’s possible to serve a Statutory Demand. If no payment is made, a Bankruptcy Petition may follow.